Multitasking in the frontal lobes: An exploration of the effects of stress on cognition
Laura McKernan's dissertation s0560740.doc (406Kb)
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Frontal lobe research has fractionated many of the higher-level processes associated with this area of the brain into specific aspects of executive functions. The current study furthers this investigation into the complex behaviour of multitasking and the modern impact of stress on these processes. A student sample of 41 participants (18 male, 23 female), were recruited and randomly assigned to either stressed or non-stressed groups. The experimental manipulation of stress was induced via a verbal instruction manipulation. Following this, volunteers completed a self-reported stress measure; Speilberger’s STAI, executive functioning tasks as measured by the Trail Making Test and the Tower Test. In addition to this the Breakfast task was also performed as a means of assessing multitasking abilities. Although considerable variation was found on the performance of individuals during the Breakfast task, results revealed no significant effects of stress between the stressed and non-stressed groups. All participants showed greater monitoring tendencies during the more complex scenario of the Breakfast task. However, analyses revealed no significant correlation between these tendencies and their ability to cook food correctly. These results demonstrate the cognitive interactions of both prospective and working memory as assessed by the Breakfast task. The complexities of multitasking behaviour are discussed in line with current theories of stress and cognition.