Human Cognitive Performance Suffers Following Natural Disasters

Human Cognitive Performance Suffers Following Natural Disasters

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Not surprisingly, victims of a natural disaster can experience stress and anxiety, but a new study indicates that it might also cause them to make more errors – some serious – in their daily lives. Specifically, the researchers explore how cognitive performance can decline after earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Past research has indicated that more traffic accidents and accident-related fatalities occur following human-made disasters such as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, due to increased cognitive impairment that can lead to higher stress levels and an increase in intrusive thoughts. However, no research has been conducted on the effects of natural disasters on cognitive performance. The study authors were unexpectedly presented with a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, with participants in a study on human performance they were conducting at the time of the quake.

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