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Consider the work of an air traffic controller or an emergency room physician. Both jobs require alertness, quick thinking, and sound judgment in the making of a constant stream of life-or-death decisions. This process occurs with every worker's shift, day after day. Imagine the impact of such an ongoing responsibility on cognitive functioning.

Stress has profound effects on cognitive functions, such as decision making, occasionally altering the brain in surprising ways. Stress hormones can affect neurotransmitter systems in the brain, causing physical changes in some cases. The hippocampus, for ex, can atrophy as a result of chronic stress.

Please help me to consider effects of stress on cognitive functions. Then think about a time when stress affected your cognitive functions.

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