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Differential brain activity as a function of social evaluative stress in early adolescence: Brain function and salivary cortisol

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2021

Max P. Herzberg
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Ruskin H. Hunt
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Kathleen M. Thomas
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Megan R. Gunnar
Affiliation:
Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Understanding individual differences in neural responses to stressful environments is an important avenue of research throughout development. These differences may be especially critical during adolescence, which is characterized by opportunities for healthy development and increased susceptibility to the development of psychopathology. While the neural correlates of the psychosocial stress response have been investigated in adults, these links have not been explored during development. Using a new task, the Minnesota Imaging Stress Test in Children (MISTiC), differences in activation are found in fusiform gyrus, superior frontal gyrus, insula, and anterior cingulate cortex when comparing a stressful math task to a nonstressful math task. The MISTiC task successfully elicits cortisol responses in a similar proportion of adolescents as in behavioral studies while collecting brain imaging data. Cortisol responders and nonresponders did not differ in their perceived stress level or behavioral performance during the task despite differences in neuroendocrine function. Future research will be able to leverage the MISTiC task for many purposes, including probing associations between individual differences in stress responses with environmental conditions, personality differences, and the development of psychopathology.

Type
Special Section 2: Early Adversity and Development: Contributions from the Field
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

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