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Lazarus and Folkman (1984) proposed a model that emphasized the transactional nature

of stress. Stress is a two way process; the environment produces stressors and the individual

finds ways to deal with these. In addition, stress may be defined as a nonspecific response to

perceived environmental threats (called stressors). The generalized feeling of fear and

apprehension associated with a stressor is called anxiety. Anxiety is typically accompanied by

activation of the sympathetic nervous system and increased physiological arousal, which causes

rapid breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, and dilation of the pupils. Furthermore, fear is

difficult to describe in scientific terms due to the subjective nature of the experience of fear.

Dependent upon the experience’s past encounter with threatening, fearful, and or anxious

situations generally will determine what she/he may describe as a fearful or anxious event.

People and even animals respond differently to threatening situations. The type of threat that is

perceived by the individual and the learned social responses to fearful situations could affect how

an individual responds to a given threat. According to Rachman, there are three main

components to fear and they do not always correspond with each other. It is therefore important,

when discussing fear, to identify which component of fear is being described. The three

components of fear are described as "the subjective experience of apprehension, associated

psycho physiological changes, and attempts to avoid or escape from fearful situations". An

individual's ability to control a possible threatening situation will have an impact on her/his

experience of fear (1990).

Baker, Gress, Givens, and William conducted a study on the effects of predator-induced

stress and age on working memory in rats. The effects of age and predator-induced stress, by

exposing rats to a cat, were examined during subsequent testing of spatial working memory.
Male rats (3 months and 20 months of age) were trained on a spatial delayed-alternation task

using an elevated T maze. After subgroups were given intermittent protected-exposure sessions

over a 3-day period to cats or to a control condition, they were tested on the working memory

task. The old rats took more trials to reach training criterion. Overall, both stress-exposed groups

exhibited a decline in accuracy 24 hr later and recovered completely during the subsequent test

sessions. Surprisingly, young stressed rats showed significantly greater decrements in accuracy

than old stressed rats. However, exposure to the stressor resulted in decreases in response speed

that were comparable for both age groups, these findings are discussed in terms of possible

changes in glucocorticoids, plasma corticosterone, and endogenous opioids that are known to be

affected by age and stress and have been shown to influence spatial working memory (1998).

There was an experiment on identifying the effects of exposing a predator on rats. In the

experiment it was clearly stated that rats having been exposed to, but not attacked or harmed by,

a natural predator (i.e., a cat) results in a disruption of response-dependent memory. Currently,

the experiment is extending this finding by examining the effects that other types of natural

stressors might have on spatial working memory. This type of ethoexperimental approach to the

study of emotion and cognition is receiving more attention not only in laboratory, but also by

other investigators using a variety of methods (1995).

The rat that was exposed to a predator basically experienced fear, since by nature; rats

believed that cats would make them as prey or food. Moreover, based on the information

mentioned above, you could say that fear could lead into stress and stress could hinder learning

and deprive your memory, the fact that acute exposure of rat to a stressor (cat) results in a deficit

in spatial working memory.


Bibliography

Lazarus , Folkman. (1984). Theories of stress. Retrieved February 26, 2011, from

http://www.garysturt.free-online.co.uk/theostre.htm

San Filippo, D. (1994). What is fear? Retrieved February 26, 2011, from http://www.lutz-

sanfilippo.com/library/counseling/lsffear.html

Stress response theories. (2000). Retrieved February 26, 2011, from

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Stress-Response-Theories.topicArticleId-

25438,articleId-25371.html

Baker, Gress , Givens, Williams. (1998). Effects of predator-induced stress and age on working

memory in rats.

Effects of predator-induced stress and age on working memory in rats. (1995). Retrieved February

February 26, 201, from

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3538/is_n3_v48/ai_n28710006/pg_8/