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Combat Stress Decreases Memory of Warfighters in Action

  • Education & Training
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The present research aimed to analyze the effect of combat stress in the psychophysiological response and attention and memory of warfighters in a simulated combat situation. Variables of blood oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood glucose, blood lactate, body temperature, lower body muscular strength manifestation, cortical arousal, autonomic modulation, state anxiety and memory and attention through a postmission questionnaire were analyzed before and after a combat simulation in 20 male professional Spanish Army warfighters. The combat simulation produces a significant increase (p < 0.05) in explosive leg strength, rated perceived exertion, blood glucose, blood lactate, somatic anxiety, heart rate, and low frequency domain of the HRV (LF) and a significant decrease of high frequency domain of the heart rate variability (HF). The percentage of correct response in the postmission questionnaire parameters show that elements more related with a physical integrity threat are the most correctly remembered. There were significant differences in the postmission questionnaire variables when participants were divided by the cortical arousal post: sounds no response, mobile phone correct, mobile phone no response, odours correct. The correlation analysis showed positive correlations: LF post/body temperature post, HF post/correct sound, body temperature post/glucose post, CFFTpre/lactate post, CFFT post/wrong sound, glucose post/AC pre, AC post/wrong fusil, AS post/SC post and SC post/wrong olfactory; and negative correlations: LF post/correct sound, body temperature post/lactate post and glucose post/lactate post. This data suggest that combat stress actives fight-flight system of soldiers. As conclusion, Combat stress produces an increased psychophysiological response that cause a selective decrease of memory, depending on the nature, dangerous or harmless of the objects.

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Correspondence to Vicente Javier Clemente-Suárez.

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This study was partially supported by the Cathedra SANRO-UEM CAT00140.

Conflict of Interest

Author Rosa Delgado-Moreno declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Jose Juan Robles-Perez declares that he has no conflict of interest. Vicente Javier Clemente-Suarez declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Education & Training

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Delgado-Moreno, R., Robles-Pérez, J.J. & Clemente-Suárez, V.J. Combat Stress Decreases Memory of Warfighters in Action. J Med Syst 41, 124 (2017).

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