Stress Response Patterns and Health

Human life is characterized by repeated acute stress experiences. Biological stress systems respond in different ways to repeated stress exposure, of which some can be considered as adaptive, while others might be considered as maladaptive. In our research focus "Stress Response Patterns and Health" we address the following important questions:

  • How do different biological systems respond to repeated acute stress?
  • Which psychological processes determine or moderate adaptation of biological stress response systems?
  • What are the long-term health effects of specific stress response patterns? 
  • How can we change acute stress response patterns using psychological or other interventions?

Projects:

In the last decades, research has increased our knowledge about the role of psychosocial stress as antecedent for various diseases. Adding to the classical approach of investigating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), inflammation as a mediator between stress and disease, was introduced and discussed. Moreover, research showed that the physiological response to acute and recurrent psychosocial stress is, among others, moderated by psychological…

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Changes in response patterns of biological stress systems, including responses of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to repeated stress, can promote the development and progression of chronic inflammatory diseases via changes in downstream inflammatory processes. The aim of the proposed project is thus to investigate, whether habituation of biological stress system activity including responses of the inflammatory system can be modified. Aiming…

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There is evidence that acute stress can influence cognitive performance in some areas, but findings are inconsistent. Here, the impact of acute social stress on response inhibition, visual attention and divergent thinking is investigated experimentally and linked to biological markers of the stress reaction like heart rate, saliva alpha amylase and cortisol.

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Increased as well as prolonged physiological stress reactions constitute an antecedent of stress-related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease. Thereby the strength of physiological stress reactions underlies various internal and external influences. Within the scope of the study termed COST, we investigated the protective effect of individual coping strategies against increased or prolonged endocrine stress reactions.

The main focus of this study involved a…

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