Advertisement

Cortical and Autonomic Stress Responses in Adults with High Versus Low Levels of Trait Anxiety: A Pilot Study

  • A. BrugneraEmail author
  • C. Zarbo
  • R. Adorni
  • A. Compare
  • K. Sakatani
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 977)

Abstract

Stress responses are mediated by complex patterns of cortical and autonomic activity. Earlier studies showed increased recruitment of the right prefrontal cortex (PFC) and parasympathetic withdrawal during a stress task; however, it remains unclear whether these responses change in relation to different levels of psychopathological symptoms, such as trait anxiety. The present study examines the effect of a mathematical task (with a control condition and a stressful/experimental condition) on the PFC and autonomic activity, using a two-channel near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and an ECG monitoring system. After a preliminary screening of 65 subjects, a sample of 12 individuals (6 with the highest and 6 with the lowest scores on an anxiety questionnaire, i.e. the STAI trait) was selected. The two groups were similar regarding demographic variables (age, sex, body mass index) and baseline STAI-state scores. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to compare changes from baseline in oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb), heart rate (HR) and root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) between the two groups. Individuals affected by high levels of trait anxiety showed a reduced bilateral PFC activity during the entire experimental procedure compared to those with low anxiety. No differences in NIRS channels were found between the two groups. During both conditions, RMSSD was lower among individuals affected by high levels of anxious symptoms. Finally, throughout the procedure, changes in HR were higher in the anxious group. Overall, these findings suggest a reduced PFC activity and a larger parasympathetic withdrawal during a stress task in individuals with high levels of trait anxiety compared to those with low anxiety. These results could represent a starting point for future NIRS and ECG studies on the relationship between mental disorders and acute stress responses.

Keywords

NIRS Trait Anxiety RMSSD STAI PFC 

References

  1. 1.
    Thayer JF et al (2009) Heart rate variability, prefrontal neural function, and cognitive performance: the neurovisceral integration perspective on self-regulation, adaptation, and health. Ann Behav Med 37(2):141–153CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kogler L et al (2015) Psychosocial versus physiological stress: meta-analyses on deactivations and activations of the neural correlates of stress reactions. NeuroImage 119:235–251CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tanida M, Katsuyama M, Sakatani K (2007) Relation between mental stress-induced prefrontal cortex activity and skin conditions: a near-infrared spectroscopy study. Brain Res 1184:210–216CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Castaldo R et al (2015) Acute mental stress assessment via short term HRV analysis in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Biomed Signal Process Control 18:370–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Takizawa R et al (2014) Anxiety and performance: the disparate roles of prefrontal subregions under maintained psychological stress. Cereb Cortex 24(7):1858–1866CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chalmers JA et al (2014) Anxiety disorders are associated with reduced heart rate variability: a meta-analysis. Front Psychiatry 5:80CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sanchez-Gonzalez M et al (2015) Trait anxiety mimics age-related cardiovascular autonomic modulation in young adults. J Hum Hypertens 29(4):274–280CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Thayer JF, Friedman BH (2004) A neurovisceral integration model of health disparities in aging. In: Anderson NB, Bulato RA, Cohen B (eds) Critical perspectives on racial and ethnic differences in health in late life. National Academies Press, Washington, DC, pp 567–603Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Spielberger CD et al (2000) STAI Y1 and STAI Y2: Italian edition. Organizzazioni Speciali, FirenzeGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shapiro PA et al (2000) Cerebral activation, hostility, and cardiovascular control during mental stress. J Psychosom Res 48(4–5):485–491CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Dedovic K et al (2005) The Montreal Imaging Stress Task: using functional imaging to investigate the effects of perceiving and processing psychosocial stress in the human brain. J Psychiatry Neurosci 30(5):319–325PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Brugnera
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Zarbo
    • 1
  • R. Adorni
    • 1
  • A. Compare
    • 1
  • K. Sakatani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Human & Social SciencesUniversity of BergamoBergamoItaly
  2. 2.NEWCAT Research Institute, Department of Electrical and Electronic EngineeringCollege of Engineering, Nihon UniversityKoriyamaJapan

Personalised recommendations