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Association between Salivary Alpha-Amylase and Executive Functioning in Healthy Children

  • Enrique F. Maldonado (a1), Mari Nislin (a2), Laura Marín (a3), Ana Martín-Escribano (a3), Alfredo Enguix (a3), Cristina López (a1), Alba Magarín (a1), Ana Álamo (a1), Paula Ortíz (a1), Marina Muñoz (a1) and Silvia García (a1)...


The main aim of this study was to confirm the relationship between executive performance and salivary alpha-amylase (SAA) activity in a sample of 64 healthy children (39 boys), and compare it to the association of SAA output and salivary flow rate (SFR). Executive functioning was assessed via fluency, trail-making, rings and inhibition tasks from the Batería de Evaluación Neuropsicológica de la Función Ejecutiva en Niños [Battery of Neuropsychological Assessment for Executive Function in Children] (ENFEN), merged into an ENFEN total score. SAA activity, output, and SFR were measured at baseline, one minute before, and one minute after the end of a neuropsychological testing session. Our results confirmed a direct, linear and significant association between SAA activity and executive functioning, r(64) = .351, p < .05, and extended it to SAA output, r(64) =.431, p < .05. The mean level of SAA output was the best predictor of executive functioning (β = .431, p < .05) and explained 18.2 % of the variance in ENFEN total score. In sum, and compared to SAA activity, measuring SAA output may be a more precise and indirect marker to assess executive functioning in children.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Enrique F. Maldonado. Universidad de Málaga. Andalucía Tech, Facultad de Psicología, Departamento de Psicobiología y Metodología de las Ciencias del Comportamiento. Campus Teatinos. 29071 Málaga (Spain). E-mail:


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We would like to acknowledge the parents and teachers of the children of the Pintor Revello de Toro and Cayetano Bolivar primary schools who participated in our study.

How to cite this article:

Maldonado, E. F., Nislin, M., Marín, L., Martín-Escribano, A., Enguix, A., López, C., … García, S. (2019). Association between salivary alpha-amylase and executive functioning in healthy children. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 22. e24. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2019.26



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