From Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People) by Amy Gallo:
“Research demonstrates that even mild instances of stress can cause a rapid and dramatic loss of prefrontal cognitive abilities. We have less access to higher-order thinking, which governs our thoughts, attention, behavior, emotions, and our decision-making. Put simply, we don’t think very clearly, and we lose our ability to make sound judgments, which is not a recipe for productive action.”
Does anyone have a source for this claim that "mild instances of stress" (like getting irked at someone/something) can cause "a rapid and dramatic loss" of our cognitive abilities in humans? The author does not provide any citation for this passage.
I'm not personally surprised that this may very well be true, but I'd like to know for sure that this is indeed the case.
I found a source that does state this in its abstract:
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) — the most evolved brain region — subserves our highest-order cognitive abilities. However, it is also the brain region that is most sensitive to the detrimental effects of stress exposure. Even quite mild acute uncontrollable stress can cause a rapid and dramatic loss of prefrontal cognitive abilities, and more prolonged stress exposure causes architectural changes in prefrontal dendrites. Recent research has begun to reveal the intracellular signalling pathways that mediate the effects of stress on the PFC. This research has provided clues as to why genetic or environmental insults that disinhibit stress signalling pathways can lead to symptoms of profound prefrontal cortical dysfunction in mental illness.
However, reading the full paper (available in Sci-Hub) reveals that the authors base these conclusions on animal studies:
Several studies have used tasks that explicitly rely on PFC function to examine the effects of mild stress on cognitive performance. These studies used spatial working memory tasks in rats and monkeys and found that quite mild acute stress impaired the accuracy of responding and often produced a perseverative pattern of response that is consistent with PFC dysfunction. For example, a white-noise stress that impairs cognitive abilities in humans was found to also impair spatial working memory in monkeys. Conversely, performance of control tasks with similar motor and motivational demands but no need for PFC regulation was not altered by mild stress exposure. Similarly, rats exposed to acute stressors were impaired on a spatial delayed alternation task that requires medial PFC function, but were not impaired on a non-PFC-reliant spatial discrimination task in the same maze.