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  The interaction of acute and chronic stress impairs model-based behavioral control

Radenbach, C., Reiter, A., Engert, V., Sjoerds, Z., Villringer, A., Heinze, H.-J., et al. (2015). The interaction of acute and chronic stress impairs model-based behavioral control. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 53, 268-280. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.017.

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Radenbach, Christoph1, Author           
Reiter, Andrea1, 2, Author           
Engert, Veronika3, Author           
Sjoerds, Zsuzsika1, Author           
Villringer, Arno4, 5, 6, 7, Author           
Heinze, Hans-Jochen8, 9, Author
Deserno, Lorenz1, 9, 10, Author           
Schlagenhauf, Florian1, 10, Author           
1Max Planck Fellow Group Cognitive and Affective Control of Behavioural Adaptation, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_1753350              
2International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication, Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634552              
4Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              
5Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
6Integrated Research and Treatment Center Adiposity Diseases, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
7Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              
8Department of Behavioral Neurology, Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, Magdeburg, Germany, ou_persistent22              
9Department of Neurology, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany, ou_persistent22              
10Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany, ou_persistent22              


Free keywords: Acute/chronic stress; Cortisol; Computational modeling; Reinforcement learning; Model-based/model-free decision-making; Behavioral control
 Abstract: It is suggested that acute stress shifts behavioral control from goal-directed, model-based toward habitual, model-free strategies. Recent findings indicate that interindividual differences in the cortisol stress response influence model-based decision-making. Although not yet investigated in humans, animal studies show that chronic stress also shifts decision-making toward more habitual behavior. Here, we ask whether acute stress and individual vulnerability factors, such as stress reactivity and previous exposure to stressful life events, impact the balance between model-free and model-based control systems. To test this, 39 male participants (21–30 years old) were exposed to a potent psychosocial stressor (Trier Social Stress Test) and a control condition in a within-subjects design before they performed a sequential decision-making task which evaluates the balance between the two systems. Physiological and subjective stress reactivity was assessed before, during, and after acute stress exposure. By means of computational modeling, we demonstrate that interindividual variability in stress reactivity predicts impairments in model-based decision-making. Whereas acute psychosocial stress did not alter model-based behavioral control, we found chronic and acute stress to interact in their detrimental effect on decision-making: subjects with high but not low chronic stress levels as indicated by stressful life events exhibited reduced model-based control in response to acute psychosocial stress. These findings emphasize that stress reactivity and chronic stress play an important role in mediating the relationship between stress and decision-making. Our results might stimulate new insights into the interplay between chronic and acute stress, attenuated model-based control, and the pathogenesis of various psychiatric diseases.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2014-09-122014-12-022015-01-062015-03
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.12.017
PMID: 25662093
Other: Epub 2015
 Degree: -



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Title: Psychoneuroendocrinology
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Oxford : Pergamon
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 53 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 268 - 280 Identifier: ISSN: 0306-4530
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925514499