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PROJECT DESCRIPTION Impact of Pregnancy Cortisol Levels on High and Low Working Memory Foam The terms "baby brain" and "maternal amnesia" are informally used to refer to the perceived memory reduction and inattentiveness lots of women report discomfort during maternity (Cuttler, Graf, Pawluski & Galea, 2010). Previous studies have indicated that this perceived memory reduction may be associated with temporary fatigue of working memory capacity (WMC) (Casey, 2000). Back in 1971, Marian Diamond and collegues did extensive research on pregnant women and non-pregnant rats and demonstrated for the first time that pregnancy reshapes the brain (Diamond, Johnson & Ingham, 1971). Their findings indicate that pregnancy in rats increases dendritic spine density in regions of the brain that regulate memory and learning as well as areas involved in control of anxiety and stress. During stressful conditions, adrenergic stimulation stimulates secretion of epinephrine from the sympathetic nervous system (Elzinga & Roelofs, 2005). The hormone cortisol is made by the adrenal glands and is also essential in reaction to stressful situations. When adrenergic action and cortisol levels are concordantly increased, working memory impairments proceed. Throughout the next phase of maternity, pregnancy reaches amounts consistent with those found in Cushing's syndrome (Glynn, 2010). Cushing's syndrome can be characterized by excess cortisol levels spread from the adrenal glands as a consequence of a tumor or drug (Margulies, Voto, Fescina, Lastra, Lapidus & Schwarez 1987). Individuals suffering from Cushing's syndrome encounter a vast range of symptoms, one of which is a reduction in working memory. Working memory (WM) is a theoretical structure referring to a ind.. .