Enhanced performance on executive functions associated with examination stress: Evidence from task-switching and Stroop paradigms

Ora Kofman, Nachshon Meiran, Efrat Greenberg, Meirav Balas, Hagit Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stressful life situations can impair or facilitate various cognitive functions. In the present study, the effect of examination stress on students was examined using two executive function tasks, task-switching and the Stroop task, in a between-subject crossover design. Students showed increased anxiety in the 2 week period prior to exams compared to the beginning of the semester, manifested as higher scores on the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Scale and a shift to more sympathetic activation when heart rate variability was assessed. During the stressful period, the switching cost was reduced on a spatial task-switching paradigm and reaction times in the Stroop task were faster. This is the first study to show stress-induced facilitation of performance on these executive function tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-595
Number of pages19
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2006

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