Experimental Models for Research in Stress and Behavior


Stress research has gained popularity due to the increased acknowledgement of chronic stress on personal health. With this increased interest, researchers need to assure that the public receives quality, evidence-based solutions. Improvements following a stress reduction intervention are generally assessed by a self-survey pre-post rather than objective biomarkers of stress. There is a need in the literature for a research paradigm utilizing two different stressors to prevent any alteration in post-intervention results due to habituation of the stressor. The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and the Beilock Stress Test (BST) are two different stress protocols published in the literature. The present study has three objectives: 1) to compare the efficacy of two different previously documented psychological stressors, the TSST and the BST; 2) to compare an invasive measure, serum cortisol, to a non-invasive measure, the galvanic skin response (GSR); and 3) to examine the effects of sex on the response. Fifty-seven college age males (n = 31) and females (n = 26) completed both protocols. Blood samples were collected every 10 min for 110 minutes. Baseline, stressor, and recovery 1, 2, and 3 were averaged for a 20 min period. A 2 (test: BST or TSST) by 2 (sex: male or female) by 5 (trials: baseline, stressor, and recovery 1, 2, and 3) Mixed Plot ANCOVA with repeated measures on test and trial was used to analyze the data. There was not a significant main effect for test or sex for cortisol or the GSR. There was a significant difference for trial for both biomarkers: cortisol F(4,208) = 39.41; and GSR F(4,216) = 15.18. There was also a significant interaction term for sex × trial × test, F(4,208) = 4.51 and for test × trial, F(4,208) = 14.31 for cortisol. The conclusion is that the TSST and the BST can be used as pretest posttest stressors in translational studies assessing the effectiveness of a stress reduction technique if slight modifications are made in the statistical design.

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Robert-McComb, J. , Casey, S. , Kim, Y. , Hart, M. , Norman, R. and Qian, X. (2015) Experimental Models for Research in Stress and Behavior. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 5, 295-305. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2015.57030.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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