Executive functioning performance predicts subjective and physiological acute stress reactivity: Preliminary results

Donny Hendrawan, Kaori Yamakawa, Motohiro Kimura, Hiroki Murakami, Hideki Ohira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Individual differences in baseline executive functioning (EF) capacities have been shown to predict state anxiety during acute stressor exposure. However, no previous studies have clearly demonstrated the relationship between EF and physiological measures of stress. The present study investigated the efficacy of several well-known EF tests (letter fluency, Stroop test, and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test) in predicting both subjective and physiological stress reactivity during acute psychosocial stress exposure. Our results show that letter fluency served as the best predictor for both types of reactivity. Specifically, the higher the letter fluency score, the lower the acute stress reactivity after controlling for the baseline stress response, as indicated by lower levels of state anxiety, negative mood, salivary cortisol, and skin conductance. Moreover, the predictive power of the letter fluency test remained significant for state anxiety and cortisol indices even after further adjustments for covariates by adding the body mass index (BMI) as a covariate. Thus, good EF performance, as reflected by high letter fluency scores, may dampen acute stress responses, which suggests that EF processes are directly associated with aspects of stress regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-283
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Volume84
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Acute psychosocial stress
  • Executive functioning
  • Heart rate
  • Salivary cortisol
  • Skin conductance level
  • Stress regulation

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