Students who do not perform well in academics are prone to higher stress, says a new study. Children and adolescents are facing enormous anxiety and stress in the course of their academic programmes, and this leads to poor mental and physical health. The study was conducted by a team of clinical psychologists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) to assess stress levels in 20 high school girl students; ten were high-rankers and ten were low-rankers.
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The researchers gave the students a psychological test called Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), this involved answering a questionnaire. Furthermore, the researchers used Electroencephalography (EEG) to determine the electrical activity of the brains. EEG is considered a reliable, non-invasive method which records the brain’s electrical activity with the help of probes placed at different points on the scalp. Data was collected using the PSS and EEG readings.
The head of clinical neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience centre at NIMHANS, Dr Jamuna Rajeswaran explained that the brain’s electrical activity is divided into four bands, whereby each band represents the individual’s mental state. “We found significant readings in two bands called Alpha and Beta.
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The Alpha band is prominent during relaxation, while the Beta band involves conscious thought and logical thinking with a stimulative effect and takes prominence during high arousal, anxiety and stress.” The researchers had taken EEG recording of the students for 10 minutes each – 5 minute eyes closed and 5 minute eyes opened. The team observed that top ranking students had significantly higher Alpha (63.83 per cent) and lower Beta (36.17 per cent) activity; while the low-rankers had lower Alpha (37.5 per cent) and higher Beta (62.5 per cent) activity.
Dr Rajeswaran said the results imply that there is a need for stress management programmes in schools.