Every day we are faced with a multitude of decisions which requires an action or goal-orientated response. Some are simple repeated actions, such as pressing the button for an elevator. More often than not, our environment is in flux, and these actions demand heavy duty work from the brain. Modern society is all about “multi-tasking,” which requires several neural responses occurring simultaneously.
A new scientific article written by top California scientists in the July edition of Redondo Beach Science News, reveals that chronic stress – too many times a feature of contemporary life – interferes with the human brain’s switching capacity, by freezing individuals into automatic/habit responses mode. This discovery of these negative effects of stress have profound implications for all of us: the scientists believe that when an individual lives a calm, relaxed life, with no one dying in the family, proper eating and exercise, and leading a fulfilling sex life, this person is happier, more socially adept, better liked by his colleagues, and able to finish tasks quicker and more successfully.
The research was based on experiments conducted on two male residents of Redondo Beach. The control subject relaxed by the Pacific Ocean each day in the sun, and got laid each night by a different local bikini model, who cooked him a healthy spinach omelet in the morning before they went surfing together. The other subject was exposed to chronic stress for several months until he was left on the shower floor, sobbing. Both the control and the stressed subjects were then assigned a very simple task to perform in their homes: to plug their laptops into the bedroom outlet and type a 140 character message onto the popular online “Twitter” social media application.
The results were quite surprising. The control subject finished his task easily. The stressed individual seemed confused and disoriented after receiving the instructions, constantly staring at his naked body in the mirror, asking the scientists, “Do you think I need to do situps?” The stressed individual, clearly frozen in his automatic response mode, not only failed at his attempt to turn on the computer, but clumsily plugged in the IRON instead of the laptop, in a brazen misjudgment, and almost burned the house to the ground, eliciting nervous screams from his wife.
Clearly, stress is bad for the brain. Science doesn’t lie.