Recent life stress exposure is associated with poorer long-term memory, working memory, and self-reported memory.

Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PubMedID: 29020870

Shields GS, Doty D, Shields RH, Gower G, Slavich GM, Yonelinas AP. Recent life stress exposure is associated with poorer long-term memory, working memory, and self-reported memory. Stress. 2017;1-10.
Although substantial research has examined the effects of stress on cognition, much of this research has focused on acute stress (e. g. manipulated in the laboratory) or chronic stress (e. g. persistent interpersonal or financial difficulties). In contrast, the effects of recent life stress on cognition have been relatively understudied. To address this issue, we examined how recent life stress is associated with long-term, working memory, and self-reported memory in a sample of 142 healthy young adults who were assessed at two time points over a two-week period. Recent life stress was measured using the newly-developed Stress and Adversity Inventory for Daily Stress (Daily STRAIN), which assesses the frequency of relatively common stressful life events and difficulties over the preceding two weeks. To assess memory performance, participants completed both long-term and working memory tasks. PARTICIPANTS
also provided self-reports of memory problems.As hypothesized, greater recent life stress exposure was associated with worse performance on measures of long-term and working memory, as well as more self-reported memory problems. These associations were largely robust while controlling for possible confounds, including participants' age, sex, and negative affect. The findings indicate that recent life stress exposure is broadly associated with worse memory. Future studies should thus consider assessing recent life stress as a potential predictor, moderator, or covariate of memory performance.