Stress may diminish our ability to sense new dangers
June, 23 2018 15:28
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Stress may diminish our ability to sense new dangers

By: Shivani Arora

Published on: Wed 04 Oct 2017 08:17 PM

Uttar Pradesh News Portal : Stress may diminish our ability to sense new dangers

Contrary to the conventional view that stress enhances our ability to detect sources of threat, a team of researchers have found that it diminishes the ability to predict new dangers.

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What research says?

  • The research indicated that stress reduces physiological response to the new threat cue.
  • The researchers applied a computational learning model to further understand how stress affects flexibility in decision-making.
  • This analysis revealed a learning deficit for the subject put under the stress condition that participants used to update the cue associations.
  • In short, this resulted in a slower rate of learning.
  • Researchers,our study shows that when we are under stress, we pay less attention to changes in the environment.
  • In addition,potentially putting us at an increased risk for ignoring new sources of threat.


  • The researchers conducted a series of experiments to test the ability to learn to flexibly update threat responses under stressful conditions.
  • Here, the participants viewed images on a computer screen.
  • The appearance of some images were coupled with a mild, electric wrist-shock.
  • Half of the participants underwent a laboratory procedure a day later designed to induce stress.
  • This “stress group” placed their arm in an ice-water bath for a few minutes, which elevated the two stress hormones — alpha-amylase and cortisol.
  • Later, all the participants repeated the threat-conditioning procedure.
  • However, this time the cue outcomes switched.
  • The earlier threatening cue no longer predict shock, but the formerly safe cue did.
  • While the participants viewed the images, the researchers collected physiological arousal responses in order to measure how individuals anticipated the outcome of each cue.
  • On the second day, the “stress group” was less likely to change their responses to threats than the control group.

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