I'd stumbled across this article whilst researching the causation behind the short term memory and attentional difficulty that some of us complain about. Due to the nature of our disorder and the levels of stress felt by it's suffers, it appears that even low levels of stress (namely that sense of feeling out of control) could contribute to the release of a certain protein which has been linked to problems associated with short term memory and attentional difficulties.
I haven't been able to find a link to the study itself, but Medical News Today
provided this summary.
Stress makes you forgetful, kinase C protein undermines short term memory
29 Oct 2004
According to a new study, stress makes you activate an enzyme in the brain called Kinase C, it is a protein which undermines your short term memory, plus some other brain functions in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the executive decision making section of your brain.
Ask any actor who is stressed with stage fright, or a student just before an important exam and they will tell you this (losing memory) is old news.
This new study, led by Dr Amy Arnsten, Yale Medical School, USA, has managed to pinpoint why your short term memory is affected when you are experiencing stress.
You can read about this study in the journal Science.
Experts say this study could help scientists and doctors acquire a better insight in how to treat people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Kinase C (PKC) is an enzyme which is active in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Dr. Arnsten found that a psychotic episode often comes after some stressful encounter. Arnsten gave, as examples of stressful situations, leaving home to go to college or joining the armed forces.
Perhaps PKC plays a part in making patients more distracted, impulsive and have bad judgment (common during psychotic episodes).
Perhaps new drugs could target PKC production, said Arnsten.
Dr. Arnsten said ?These new findings may also help us understand the impulsivity and distractibility observed in children with lead poisoning. Very low levels of lead can activate PKC, and this may lead to impaired regulation of behavior.'
In this study Arnsten and team induced stress in rats and monkeys (by administering chemicals). The stress would be similar to what we would feel when exposed to a loud noise, or the jitters we may feel before an exam.
Arnsten said ?It doesn't have to be traumatic, as long as you feel out of control. Control is the essential factor. If you are confident, you don't have these problems." She went on to say that memory and the ability to use abstract thoughts are impaired. ?This kind of memory (using working memory that is constantly being updated), the ability to concentrate, seems to be impaired when exposed to mild stresses.'