Figure 1. The effects of stress on memory includes interference with a person’s capacity to encode memory and the ability to retrieve information (Dominique et. al, 1998). The cumulation of exams, evaluations, and deadlines, creates an enormous pressure to perform. These are just a few examples of the many events that result in high levels of stress in students. Image adapted from

Research over the past two decades identified what stress is; the hormones and neurotransmitters released during and after an event. The major modulators of human learning and memory processes, when under major stressful events, have critical implications for educational contexts and the potential to learn. While stress is thought to enhance memory formation, thus leading to robust memories, stress markedly impairs memory retrieval resulting in the risk of underachieving on exams. (Vogel and Schwabe, 2016).

Stress long before encoding new information impairs memory formation, while stress either shortly before or after the presentation of new information generally enhances subsequent memory performance. Although, stress before memory retrieval impairs the recall of information learned previously which may directly affect performance on exams. In education, knowledge needs to be frequently updated by new facts or concepts relating to prior knowledge. In addition to its effects on memory encoding and retrieval, stress appears to impair the integration of new information into existing knowledge structures.

Various studies across the globe have emphasized that students undertaking professional courses, such as medical and dental studies, are subjected to higher stress. Excessive stress potentially leads to psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. The objective of the current study was to assess stress among students of various professional colleges and its association with various academic, social and health-related factors.

The cross-sectional study was conducted from September 2011 to February 2012 among students of medical, dental and engineering colleges from the Sangli district of Maharashtra, India (Waghachavare et. al, 2013) using a convenience sampling technique. The total sample size was 1,200, with data collection via a pretested self-administered questionnaire. Statistical analysis was done using percentages, chi-square tests, binary logistic regressions, and multinomial logistic regressions.

Results: Out of the 1,224 respondents, 299 (24.4%) experienced stress. Among those who experienced stress, they were focused in the following areas: 115 (38.5%) dental, 102 (34.1%) medical, and 82 (27.4%) engineering. An analysis of the data determined there was a statistically significant association between stress and the field of education. After running a binary logistic regression, the results found that health, lifestyle, and field of study were all factors and significant predictors for stress.  (Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J 2013 Aug; 13(3): 429–436).

Conclusion: Students from the three fields of the study tested were exposed to stress. Academic factors were found to be the leading predictor of stress and the leading cause of stress. The introduction of stress management education into the curriculum could prove useful in combatting this problem (Waghachavare et. al, 2013).


COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Dalina Perzefi( Bachelor of  Biological Science, Università Politecnica delle Marche).



Dominique, J. F., Roozendaal, B., & McGaugh, J. L. (1998). Stress and glucocorticoids impair retrieval of long-term spatial memory. Nature394(6695), 787.

Vogel, S., & Schwabe, L. (2016). Learning and memory under stress: implications for the classroom. npj Science of Learning1, 16011.

Waghachavare, V. B., Dhumale, G. B., Kadam, Y. R., & Gore, A. D. (2013). A Study of Stress among Students of Professional Colleges from an Urban area in India. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal13(3), 429.