Stress Interrupts Memory
Stress, which has long been shown to disrupt focus, has now been shown to break loops that hold short-term memory together. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison watched individual neurons at work and saw that "stress can addle the mind." They also observed how neurons in the brain's prefrontal cortex help "remember" information in the first place.
A release from the university noted that working memory is short-term and flexible, allowing the brain to hold a large amount of information close at hand to perform complex tasks. "Without it, you would have forgotten the first half of this sentence while reading the second half," the release states and quotes study author and psychology professor Craig Berridge as saying, "In many respects, you'd look pretty normal without a prefrontal cortex. You don't need that part of the brain to hear or talk, to keep long-term memories, or to remember what you did as a child or what you read in the newspaper three days ago."
However, without your prefrontal cortex you'd be unable to stay on task or modulate your emotions well. "People without a prefrontal cortex are very distractible," Berridge said. "They're very impulsive. They can be very argumentative."