Could Stress Make Your Memory Worse?

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Uh oh.

A new study shows that stress may do more than make you frazzled -- it could actually affect memory, according to a new study in mice.

Researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo published a study in the journal Neuron showing that repeat exposure to stress in mice led to impairments in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, Everyday Health reported.

The prefrontal cortex is known as the "CEO of the brain," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, because it's in charge of abstract thoughts and cognitive analysis, not to mention the sense of how to act "correctly" in situations.

MedPage Today reported that the memory problems could come from interference with the signaling of glutamate -- glutamate signaling is very important for proper functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Researchers reported that when the mice were under stress, there was a loss of receptors for glutamate, which in turn had a negative effect on the brain's processes.

Past research has also shown links between stress and memory. A 2008 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, also in mice, showed that just a short period of stress could lead to brain cell communication problems in the brain regions linked with memory and learning.

Another study in mice, published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed that when levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were high in aged mice, the mice had more trouble remembering how to go through a maze. But when researchers blocked a certain receptor in the brain, the mice's memory problems were reversed.

"While we know that stress hormones affect memory, this research explains how the receptors they engage with can switch good memory to poorly-functioning memory in old age," study researcher Dr. Joyce Yau, of the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement.

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