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Stress. 2019 Sep 27:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10253890.2019.1669557. [Epub ahead of print]

Perceived control moderates the impact of academic stress on the attention process of working memory in male college students.

Lin L1,2, Zhang J1,2, Wang P1,2, Bai X1,2, Sun X1,2, Zhang L1,2.

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Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing , China.
Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Science , Beijing , China.


Academic stress is a common long-term stress among the student population and is known to impact working memory within the frontoparietal attention network. Perceived control is an individual variation that may play a buffering role between stress and overall adjustment. In this study, we addressed the moderating effects of perceived control between academic stress and working memory. Fifty-nine male college students participated in the study. Academic stress and perceived control were assessed before participants completed a working memory (n-back) task. Event-related potentials (ERPs) including P2 and P3 were analyzed to examine the attention and maintenance processes of working memory. A moderating effect of perceived control on the relationship between academic stress and working memory was found. For students with low levels of perceived control, academic stress was negatively associated with P2 amplitudes at the high workload (3-back) task, suggesting a negative impact on attention process of working memory. In contrast, academic stress did not affect students with high and moderate levels of perceived control. The results indicate that perceived control may serve as a buffer to protect the cognitive function from the disruption of academic stress.


Academic stress; ERP; N-back; P2; Perceived control; Working memory

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