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See detailGood to be stressed? Improved response inhibition and error processing after acute stress in young and older men
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Schoofs, Daniela; Hessas, Eve-Mariek et al

in Neuropsychologia (2018), 119

own on whether and how age modulates stress effects on executive functions and their neural correlates. The current study investigated the effect of acute stress on response inhibition and error ... [more ▼]

own on whether and how age modulates stress effects on executive functions and their neural correlates. The current study investigated the effect of acute stress on response inhibition and error processing and their underlying cortical processes in younger and older healthy men, using EEG. Forty-nine participants (30 young) were stressed with the Trier Social Stress Test (16 young, 9 older) or underwent a friendly control procedure (14 young, 10 older) and subsequently performed a Go/No-Go task with two levels of task difficulty while performance (reaction time, error rate), stimulus-locked (N2, P3) and response-locked (Ne, Pe) ERPs were measured. Previous results on age-related cognitive deficits were replicated, with slower responses and reduced and delayed N2 and P3 components, as well as reduced Ne and Pe components in older participants. Independent of age, acute stress improved response inhibition, reflected in higher accuracy for compatible trials and enhanced inhibition-related components (N2, P3 and N2d, P3d of the difference waves No-Go minus Go), and improved error processing, reflected in enhanced error-related components (Ne, Pe and Ne_d, Pe_d of the difference waves error minus correct trial). Our findings indicate that acute stress leads to a reallocation of cognitive resources, strengthening inhibition and error processing in young and older healthy men to a similar degree. Neural generators of the analyzed ERPs are mainly part of the salience network, which is upregulated immediately after stress. This offers an explanation as to why response inhibition, in contrast to other executive functions, improves after acute stress. [less ▲]

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See detailWhat our eyes tell us about feelings: Tracking pupillary responses during emotion regulation processes
Kinner, Valerie, L.; Kuchinke, Lars; Dierolf, Angelika UL et al

in Psychophysiology (2017), 54(4),

Emotion regulation is essential for adaptive behavior and mental health. Strategies applied to alter emotions are known to differ in their impact on psychological and physiological aspects of the ... [more ▼]

Emotion regulation is essential for adaptive behavior and mental health. Strategies applied to alter emotions are known to differ in their impact on psychological and physiological aspects of the emotional response. However, emotion regulation outcome has primarily been assessed via self‐report, and studies comparing regulation strategies with regard to their peripheral physiological mechanisms are limited in number. In the present study, we therefore aimed to investigate the effects of different emotion regulation strategies on pupil dilation, skin conductance responses, and subjective emotional responses. Thirty healthy females were presented with negative and neutral pictures and asked to maintain or up‐ and downregulate their upcoming emotional responses through reappraisal or distraction. Pupil dilation and skin conductance responses were significantly enhanced when viewing negative relative to neutral pictures. For the pupil, this emotional arousal effect manifested specifically late during the pupillary response. In accordance with subjective ratings, increasing negative emotions through reappraisal led to the most prominent pupil size enlargements, whereas no consistent effect for downregulation was found. In contrast, early peak dilations were enhanced in all emotion regulation conditions independent of strategy. Skin conductance responses were not further modulated by emotion regulation. These results indicate that pupil diameter is modulated by emotional arousal, but is initially related to the extent of mental effort required to regulate automatic emotional responses. Our data thus provide first evidence that the pupillary response might comprise two distinct temporal components reflecting cognitive emotion regulation effort on the one hand and emotion regulation success on the other hand. [less ▲]

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See detailAcute stress influences the discrimination of complex scenes and complex faces in young healthy men
Paul, Marcus; Lech, Robert, K.; Scheil, Juliane et al

in Psychoneuroendocrinology (2016), 66

The stress-induced release of glucocorticoids has been demonstrated to influence hippocampal functions via the modulation of specific receptors. At the behavioral level stress is known to influence ... [more ▼]

The stress-induced release of glucocorticoids has been demonstrated to influence hippocampal functions via the modulation of specific receptors. At the behavioral level stress is known to influence hippocampus dependent long-term memory. In recent years, studies have consistently associated the hippocampus with the non-mnemonic perception of scenes, while adjacent regions in the medial temporal lobe were associated with the perception of objects, and faces. So far it is not known whether and how stress influences non-mnemonic perceptual processes. In a behavioral study, fifty male participants were subjected either to the stressful socially evaluated cold-pressor test or to a non-stressful control procedure, before they completed a visual discrimination task, comprising scenes and faces. The complexity of the face and scene stimuli was manipulated in easy and difficult conditions. A significant three way interaction between stress, stimulus type and complexity was found. Stressed participants tended to commit more errors in the complex scenes condition. For complex faces a descriptive tendency in the opposite direction (fewer errors under stress) was observed. As a result the difference between the number of errors for scenes and errors for faces was significantly larger in the stress group. These results indicate that, beyond the effects of stress on long-term memory, stress influences the discrimination of spatial information, especially when the perception is characterized by a high complexity. [less ▲]

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