How Stress Can Be the Key to Your Survival

We’re headed to the wilderness to put your brain through the ultimate test of survival of the fittest. Are you a fight or flight kind of person? Do you laugh in the face of danger? How do you handle those stressful moments of crisis?

On this week’s episode of Brain Games, meet our four participants: a former marine turned stand up comic, a yoga instructor, a West Point graduate, and a traveling free spirit. We put their survival skills to test by asking them to complete a pattern recognition puzzle. How will their performance change after facing stressful circumstances? We’re talking a being dropped face-down in a 700-foot canyon kind of situation.

Take a look in this sneak peek clip:

The danger of this stunt exists only in the imagination of the players. But Dr. Bart, a neuroscience expert, predicts that the reactions to the perceived threat of falling will feel real to our participants. Stressful situations trigger a chain reaction that starts in our brains, releasing a wave of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. The greater the stress, the bigger the wave and impact on our performance. 

This is because the flood of neurochemicals affects your frontal lobe, which messes up your logical thinking and reasoning skills. The ability to quickly clear these stress inducing hormones from your brain is a good indicator of your survival success.

How the players perform in our puzzle game changes after enduring the thrilling fall. The strongest survivors have a surprising secret—they respond well to stress by using that adrenaline to their advantage and channeling it in a way that’s productive. Our winner’s skills improved after the canyon drop challenge and takes an early overall lead.

Find out who comes out on top of our challenges in Brain Games: Survivor Brain, Sunday at 9/8c on NGC.

In the meantime, take our three-question survival challenge and see if your brain has the skills to survive.

Question #1: Unfortunate events have left you stranded alone in the wilderness… Which item will be the most critical to your survival?

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Find out the answer and finish the quiz here. For more games, visit natgeotv.com/braingames