Stressed Out? You'll Learn Better

Stress hormones alter brain cells, aiding in memory storage
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 3, 2011 5:02 PM CDT
Stress can help you remember what you've studied, researchers suggest.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If studying for exams stresses you out, be glad: It could help you remember the material, a study suggests. Hormones produced when we’re stressed, like cortisol and adrenaline, help us store memories by altering the way our brain cells work, reports the Telegraph. The hormones “reprogram” DNA in our brains in a process called epigenetic modification, says the lead British researcher.

“We often find that unpleasant memories are the ones that stay with us for the rest of our lives more than pleasant memories.” Biologically, it’s essential “to remember something that hurt or threatened us.” The stress hormones bolster “epigenetic control mechanisms and this leads to an enhanced expression of the genes that play a role in leaning and memory.” But extreme stress makes learning impossible, the researcher adds. “The brain goes into an override mode and so the memory formation is not efficient.”

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