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Watching Violent, Churning Movie Scenes Affect Problem-Solving Ability

Watching graphically violent or emotional scenes in a movie may induce enough stress to interfere with your problem solving ability, says a study.

Next time you sit down to watch a violent or // emotional movie, beware. It could harm your problem-solving ability.

David Beversdorf, a neurologist at the State University Medical Center, studied six men and six women and asked them to combine movie viewing with problem-solving tasks to assess the effects of stress on cognitive flexibility.

The researchers juxtaposed two very different movies - 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Shrek' - to induce stress or set up a control condition before testing participants for verbal mental flexibility, reported 'Newswise', the online news service for universities and research institutions.

Those who watched the first 20 minutes of 'Saving Private Ryan', which graphically depicts the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II, struggled with cognitive flexibility when compared to those who spent 20 minutes watching the beginning of the animated comedy 'Shrek'.

Immediately following the viewing, participants were assessed for performance on word-association tasks. Lists of three words were given and participants were asked to provide a fourth word that could be combined with each of the three other words to form compound words.

Non-stressed participants answered correctly 39 percent more frequently than stressed participants.

However, the study suggests that a beta-blocker medication could promote the ability to think flexibly under stressful conditions.

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