Mental state affects learning processes

Mental state affects learning processes

A study has shown that the mental state of an individual affects the way they learn, giving yet more of an incentive to address stress to prevent it from infringing upon all aspects of life. Researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany claim stressed and non-stressed persons use different brain regions and strategies when learning, with anxious individuals relying on gut feeling alone. Conversely, people who are more relaxed are able to apply more deliberate learning strategies. Dr Lars Schwabe, co-author of the study, stated: "These results demonstrate for the first time that stress has an influence on which of the different memory systems the brain turns on." The discovery was made when 59 subjects were split into two groups, with one placed under stress and the other relaxed. Participants were then asked to look at playing cards with different symbols, learning to predict which cards announced rain and which sunshine, with each combination of cards associated with a probability of good or bad weather. MRI monitoring found that the two groups approached the task differently, with non-stressed individuals focusing on individual symbols, while stressed participants used a more complex strategy and targeted combinations of symbols. Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.