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  Separating EEG correlates of stress: Cognitive effort, time pressure, and social-evaluative threat

Ehrhardt, N. M., Fietz, J., Kopf-Beck, J., Kappelmann, N., & Brem, A.-K. (2021). Separating EEG correlates of stress: Cognitive effort, time pressure, and social-evaluative threat. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE. doi:10.1111/ejn.15211.

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 Creators:
Ehrhardt, Nina M.1, Author           
Fietz, Julia2, 3, Author           
Kopf-Beck, Johannes2, Author           
Kappelmann, Nils2, 3, Author           
Brem, Anna-Katherine1, Author           
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society, ou_1607137              
2Dept. Translational Research in Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society, ou_2035295              
3IMPRS Translational Psychiatry, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society, Kraepelinstr. 2-10, 80804 Munich, DE, ou_3318616              

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 Abstract: The prefrontal cortex is a key player in stress response regulation. Electroencephalographic (EEG) responses, such as a decrease in frontal alpha and an increase in frontal beta power, have been proposed to reflect stress-related brain activity. However, the stress response is likely composed of different parts such as cognitive effort, time pressure, and social-evaluative threat, which have not been distinguished in previous studies. This distinction, however, is crucial if we aim to establish reliable tools for early detection of stress-related conditions and monitoring of stress responses throughout treatment. This randomized cross-over study (N = 38) aimed to disentangle EEG correlates of stress. With linear mixed models accounting for missing values in some conditions, we found a decrease in frontal alpha and increase in beta power when performing the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT; cognitive effort; n = 32) compared to resting state (n = 33). No change in EEG power was found when the PASAT was performed under time pressure (n = 29) or when adding social-evaluative threat (video camera; n = 29). These findings suggest that frontal EEG power can discriminate stress from resting state but not more fine-grained differences of the stress response.

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 Dates: 2021-05
 Publication Status: Published online
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 Identifiers: ISI: 000646326700001
DOI: 10.1111/ejn.15211
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Title: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: - Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 0953-816X