Stress hormones in psychophysiological research: Emotional, behavioral, and cognitive implications.
ABSTRACT In this chapter the authors discuss stress hormones, emphasizing their modulation by emotionally salient stimuli, including mental and social stressors. The authors then describe stress hormones' biological characteristics and the neural basis of their responsiveness to psychological stimulation. The authors then consider the relationship between stress hormones metabolic and circadian variations and psychologically induced changes. The authors discuss research designs to achieve maximum sensitivity to psychogenic variations. Finally, the authors comment on practical issues in the collection, handling, and storage of biological specimens for the quantification of stress hormone changes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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ABSTRACT: Prior research has revealed racial disparities in health outcomes and health-compromising behaviors, such as smoking and drug abuse. It has been suggested that discrimination contributes to such disparities, but the mechanisms through which this might occur are not well understood. In the research reported here, we examined whether the experience of discrimination affects acute physiological stress responses and increases risk-taking behavior. Black and White participants each received rejecting feedback from partners who were either of their own race (in-group rejection) or of a different race (out-group rejection, which could be interpreted as discrimination). Physiological (cardiovascular and neuroendocrine) changes, cognition (memory and attentional bias), affect, and risk-taking behavior were assessed. Significant Participant Race × Partner Race interactions were observed. Cross-race rejection, compared with same-race rejection, was associated with lower levels of cortisol, increased cardiac output, decreased vascular resistance, greater anger, increased attentional bias, and more risk-taking behavior. These data suggest that perceived discrimination is associated with distinct profiles of physiological reactivity, affect, cognitive processing, and risk taking, implicating direct and indirect pathways to health disparities.Psychological Science 12/2012; · 4.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to identify physiological markers of chronic stress in middle-aged women that can be assessed simply and are thus feasible for introduction into large-scale, epidemiologic studies of aging. Subjects were 40 nonsmoking, premenopausal women between the ages of 42 and 52 years, 20 of whom were chronically stressed because of undergoing a divorce or separation and 20 of whom were nonstressed because of being in stable marriages. Stressed and nonstressed women were matched for age, ethnicity, and education. Hypotheses focused on morning and evening salivary cortisol, overnight urinary catecholamines, cortisol, and testosterone, and platelet catecholamines. Relative to the nonstressed control subjects, the stressed women had elevated evening (9 PM) salivary cortisols, a finding that was observed on both days (mixed effects model: effect = 0.44; se = 0.14, p =.003). Support for the importance of the HPA axis was provided by the observation that the stressed women had less suppression of salivary cortisol in response to low-dose dexamethasone. Contrary to our hypothesis that stressed women would have lower overnight urinary testosterone, they had higher testosterone on day 2 (stressed = 0.76 ng/mg, nonstressed = 0.55 ng/mg; p =.04). Post hoc repeated measures analysis revealed a significant group effect over all time periods of observation (F = 5.48, p =.03, df = 1,18). Stressed women had a nonsignificant trend toward elevated platelet catecholamines. No association was found for overnight urinary catecholamines or cortisol. Promising markers of marital upheaval in middle-aged women are evening salivary cortisol and urinary testosterone from a first morning void. Replication of these findings with the same and different chronic stressors and with women of older ages is needed. The low cost and minimal burden of these potential markers makes it feasible to introduce them into large-scale epidemiologic studies of health in aging women.Psychosomatic Medicine 64(3):502-9. · 4.08 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Identification of genetic factors that influence stress reactivity is important in order to link environmental demands, particularly adversity to disease outcome. There is ample literature on genetic contribution to the endocrine stress response, while evidence for genetic contribution to individual differences in autonomic nervous system function is sparse and produced conflicting results. Here, we investigated the influence of two polymorphisms in the Catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) and serotonin transporter (5-HTT; SCL6A4) gene. We examined the autonomic stress response to the Trier Social Stress Test for Children in 115 children. Salivary α-amylase (sAA) was obtained prior to the stressor and repeatedly during recovery as a marker of autonomic reactivity. Furthermore, heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) were monitored continuously. We found differences in ANS stress response associated with each polymorphism (all p<.05). Children with the L variant of 5-HTTLPR showed a higher increase and sharper recovery of sAA in response to stress than those with S variants. For HR, we found differences associated with COMT, i.e. children carrying at least one met allele showed lower mean HR increase and slower HR recovery in response to the stressor compared to those with two val alleles (p<.001) as well as a significant decrease in heart rate variability (p<.05). Our findings indicate that these two polymorphisms do indeed influence the ANS response to stress. This study provides further evidence for the crucial role of genetic factors in the modulation of differences in the acute stress response during childhood.International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 11/2011; 83(3):302-8. · 3.05 Impact Factor