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Changes in activity level as an aftereffect of stress

1 July 1984


A review of experimental and correlational studies of the aftereffects of stress suggests that human subjects are cognitively impaired. This behavioral analysis study examines rat activity level poststress as a reflection of subject ability to act while cognitively impaired. The findings suggest that the immediate poststress effect is a lowering of activity level followed, within 24 hours, by a rapid increase in activity level to prestress levels. Three preliminary studies and one major study supported the finding. Three implications are suggested: (1) activity decreases and then increases to prestress levels as a consequence of stimulus termination, (2) immediate aftereffects of stress are different than over time aftereffects and, (3) the context of stress mediates the aftereffects of termination. Suggestions are made for therapy in that stress provoking difficulties which are resolved, may leave the client cognitively impaired and physically energized.


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