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Original Research

Examination stress and its effect on EEG

Sunil Kumar Jena.

Cited by (2)

Background: Medical curriculum is highly stressful because of mismatching of time and curricular activity. Some stress is also required for the study. Therefore, this study is designed to find out the changes in brain owing to examination stress, which is evaluated by electroencephalogram (EEG).

Objective: To find out the changes in EEG waves owing to examination stress.

Material and Methods: Sixty-two medical students were selected by questionnaire method (Medical Students Stressor Questionnaire). They were grouped in four categories of stress—mild, moderate, high, and severe. EEG was recorded in all the subjects in two settings [i.e., in normal day-to-day life (baseline) and during examination stress]. Paired t-test was applied to compare the changes in both the situations.

Result: In subjects with mild and moderate stress, the baseline EEG was alpha wave, and the EEG in examination stress was beta wave. In subjects with high stress, the baseline EEG and the EEG in examination stress was beta wave. In subjects with severe stress, the baseline EEG was beta wave and the EEG in examination stress was theta wave. In each level of stress, the change is statistically significant. Subjects with mild and moderate stress subjects were able to cope with the situation; so, baseline EEG was alpha wave. But, during the period of examination, their levels of stress increased and were unable to cope; so, EEG showed beta waves. In subjects with high stress, both baseline EEG (low frequency wave) and EEG in examination stress (high frequency wave) were beta waves. In subjects with severe stress, baseline EEG was beta wave but the examination stress EEG showed theta wave because of frustration and disappointment.

Conclusion: This study concludes that examination stress can alter the brain function to a certain degree, which is quantified by EEG.

Key words: Medical students, stress, EEG

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