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

Max P. Herzberg, Ruskin H. Hunt, Kathleen M. Thomas, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1926-1936
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding Statement. This research was supported by the National Institute of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development R01HD095904 (MPIs MRG & KMT), a grant from the Masonic Children’s Hospital Research Fund for Neurodevelopment & Child Mental Health Development at the University of Minnesota Medical School (to MRG) and the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grants TL1R002493 and UL1TR002494 (MPH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • brain function
  • cortisol
  • socially evaluative stress

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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