University of Alabama researchers study stress level of police officers

University of Alabama researchers study stress level of police officers

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - University of Alabama researchers said it's no secret that police officers are under a lot of stress in high-threat situations.

But they wanted to get a better understanding as to why through a neurosciences process.

"We can track what parts of the brain are active and when they are being activated," said Professor Rick Houser.

Officers who took part in virtual reality police training put on a mobile E-E-G.

UA Researchers said more thinking brain waves were prominent when the officers responded to stressful scenarios.

"It does require some quick thinking on the officer to decide to whether to shoot or not to shoot. One of the things that does happen with stress it affects your fine motor and vision, not a good thing for a police officer to have," said Houser.

Researchers studied the theory of mind in the hopes to help officers lower the risk of accidentally shooting an un-armed person.

"There are some areas of the brain that are promising in terms of being able to develop interventions. There's a right temporal-parietal region and it's basically behind the right ear. It's associated with understanding the intentions of others," said Houser.

Researchers said using their neuro findings they want to discover ways to help police better manage their stress.

"What's been found is officers even in the military when they are able to control a particular part of the brain there actually able to make better decisions.

UA researchers want to further explore the level of experience, race and gender of officers.

They also want to expand to firefighters and first responders measuring their stress level too.

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