Acute psychological stress commonly occurs in young and older adults’ lives. Though several studies have examined the influence of stress on how young adults learn new information, the present study is the first to directly examine these effects in older adults. Fifty older adults (M age = 71.9) were subjected to either stress induction or a control task before learning two types of information: a short video and a series of pictures. Twenty-four hours later, they were exposed to misleading information about the video and then completed memory tests for the video and pictures. Heart rate and cortisol measures suggest that a physiological stress response was successfully induced. Though pre-encoding stress had little impact on memory accuracy, stress did influence errors of omission on the cued recall test for the video. Findings are discussed in the context of previous research examining the effects of stress on memory in older adults.

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Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Department of Psychology

Smith, A.M. (Amy M.), Dijkstra, K., Gordon, L.T. (Leamarie T.), Romero, L.M. (L. Michael), & Thomas, A.K. (Ayanna K.). (2018). An investigation into the impact of acute stress on encoding in older adults. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. doi:10.1080/13825585.2018.1524438