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See detailCardiac cycle phases affect auditory-evoked potentials, startle eye blink and pre-motor reaction times in response to acoustic startle stimuli
Schulz, André UL; Vögele, Claus UL; Bertsch, Katja et al

in International Journal of Psychophysiology (2020), 157(1), 70-81

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may ... [more ▼]

Startle stimuli evoke lower responses when presented during the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase, an effect that has been called ‘cardiac modulation of startle’ (CMS). The CMS effect may be associated with visceral-afferent neural traffic, as it is reduced in individuals with degeneration of afferent autonomic nerves. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the CMS effect is due a modulation of only early, automatic stages of stimulus processing by baro-afferent neural traffic, or if late stages are also affected. We, therefore, investigated early and late components of auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) to acoustic startle stimuli (105, 100, 95 dB), which were presented during the early (R-wave +230 ms) or the late cardiac cycle phase (R +530 ms) in two studies. In Study 1, participants were requested to ignore (n=25) or to respond to the stimuli with button-presses (n=24). In Study 2 (n=23), participants were asked to rate the intensity of the stimuli. We found lower EMG startle response magnitudes (both studies) and slower pre-motor reaction times in the early as compared to the late cardiac cycle phase (Study 1). We also observed lower N1 negativity (both studies), but higher P2 (Study 1) and P3 positivity (both studies) in response to stimuli presented in the early cardiac cycle phase. This AEP modulation pattern appears to be specific to the CMS effect, suggesting that early stages of startle stimulus processing are attenuated, whereas late stages are enhanced by baro-afferent neural traffic [less ▲]

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See detailInfluence of acute stress on response inhibition in healthy men: An ERP study
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Böhnke, Robina et al

in Psychophysiology (2017), 54(5), 684-695

The current study investigated the influence of acute stress and the resulting cortisol increase on response inhibition and its underlying cortical processes, using EEG. Before and after an acute stressor ... [more ▼]

The current study investigated the influence of acute stress and the resulting cortisol increase on response inhibition and its underlying cortical processes, using EEG. Before and after an acute stressor or a control condition, 39 healthy men performed a go/no-go task while ERPs (N2, P3), reaction times, errors, and salivary cortisol were measured. Acute stress impaired neither accuracy nor reaction times, but differentially affected the neural correlates of response inhibition; namely, stress led to enhanced amplitudes of the N2 difference waves (N2d, no-go minus go), indicating enhanced response inhibition and conflict monitoring. Moreover, participants responding to the stressor with an acute substantial rise in cortisol (high cortisol responders) showed reduced amplitudes of the P3 of the difference waves (P3d, no-go minus go) after the stressor, indicating an impaired evaluation and finalization of the inhibitory process. Our findings indicate that stress leads to a reallocation of cognitive resources to the neural subprocesses of inhibitory control, strengthening premotor response inhibition and the detection of response conflict, while concurrently diminishing the subsequent finalization process within the stream of processing. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of basal and acute cortisol on cognitive flexibility in an emotional task switching paradigm in men
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Arlt, Lea Esther; Roelofs et al

in Hormones and Behavior (2016), 81

The stress hormone cortisol is assumed to influence cognitive functions. While cortisol-induced alterations of declarative memory in particular are well-investigated, considerably less is known about its ... [more ▼]

The stress hormone cortisol is assumed to influence cognitive functions. While cortisol-induced alterations of declarative memory in particular are well-investigated, considerably less is known about its influence on executive functions. Moreover, most research has been focused on slow effects, and rapid non-genomic effects have not been studied. The present study sought to investigate the impact of acute cortisol administration as well as basal cortisol levels on cognitive flexibility, a core executive function, within the non-genomic time frame. Thirty-eight healthy male participants were randomly assigned to intravenously receive either cortisol or a placebo before performing a task switching paradigm with happy and angry faces as stimuli. Cortisol levels were measured at six points during the experiment. Additionally, before the experiment, basal cortisol measures for the cortisol awakening response were collected on three consecutive weekdays immediately following awakening and 30, 45, and 60 min after. First and foremost, results showed a pronounced impact of acute and basal cortisol on reaction time switch costs, particularly for angry faces. In the placebo group, low basal cortisol was associated with minimal switch costs, whereas high basal cortisol was related to maximal switch costs. In contrast, after cortisol injection, basal cortisol levels showed no impact. These results show that cognitive flexibility-enhancing effects of acute cortisol administration are only seen in men with high basal cortisol levels. This result supports the context dependency of cortisol administration and shows the relevance of taking basal cortisol levels into account. [less ▲]

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See detailDistractor inhibition: Evidence from lateralized readiness potentials
Pramme, Lisa; Dierolf, Angelika UL; Naumann, Ewald et al

in Brain and Cognition (2015), 98

The present study investigated distractor inhibition on the level of stimulus representation. In a sequential distractor-to-distractor priming task participants had to respond to target letters flanked by ... [more ▼]

The present study investigated distractor inhibition on the level of stimulus representation. In a sequential distractor-to-distractor priming task participants had to respond to target letters flanked by distractor digits. Reaction time and stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potentials (S-LRPs) of probe responses were measured. Distractor-target onset asynchrony was varied. For RTs responses to probe targets were faster in the case of prime-distractor repetition compared to distractor changes indicating distractor inhibition. Benefits in RTs and the latency of S-LRP onsets for distractor repetition were also modulated by distractor-target onset asynchrony. For S-LRPs distractor inhibition was only present with a simultaneous onset of distractors and target. The results confirm previous results indicating inhibitory mechanisms of object-based selective attention on the level of distractor representations. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Eletrophysiology of Prepulse Inhibition
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Blumenthal, Terry; Schächinger, Hartmut et al

Poster (2015, June)

The acoustic startle response is decreased by a prepulse occurring 30-500 ms earlier. This prepulse inhibition (PPI) is interpreted in terms of the Interruption and Protection hypotheses, in which startle ... [more ▼]

The acoustic startle response is decreased by a prepulse occurring 30-500 ms earlier. This prepulse inhibition (PPI) is interpreted in terms of the Interruption and Protection hypotheses, in which startle responding interrupts prepulse processing, and PPI indicates the degree to which prepulse processing is protected from that interruption. We evaluated this hypotheses by measuring startle responding and evoked potentials (N1, P2) to both prepulse and startle stimuli under different attentional conditions (Attend Startle, Attend Prepulse, Ignore Both). 192 trials were presented in randomized order: Startle Alone (105dB noise), Prepulse Alone (70dB noise), and prepulse+startle stimuli with a stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) of 120 (PPI120) or 500 ms (PPI500). 36 participants, randomly assigned to the three attention conditions, pressed a key to the startle or to the pre-pulse or did not respond. A 32-channel EEG and eyeblink EMG were measured. Independent of the attentional conditions, the EMG startle response was decreased by a pre-pulse at both SOAs, illustrating PPI. Prepulse N1/P2 amplitude was identical for the Prepulse Alone, PPI120, and PPI500 stimuli independent of the attentional conditions, demonstrating protection of primary sensory prepulse processing. N1/P2 potentials to the startle stimulus were affected by the SOAs and the attentional conditions, suggesting a change in startle processing by both variables. The results suggest a complete protection of prepulse processing. The reduced N1/P2 amplitudes to the startle stimulus at both SOAs suggest that the eliciting properties of the startle stimulus are decreased by the prepulse. [less ▲]

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See detailVisuelle Blockade durch hypnotische Suggestion
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Kerscher, Lisa; Miltner, Wolfgang et al

Poster (2015, June)

Hypnotherapie nutzt Trance und Suggestion im therapeu- tischen Kontext erfolgreich und mit empirisch belegter Wirksamkeit, z.B. zur Therapie von Süchten, Belastungsstörungen und Schmerzen. Allerdings ... [more ▼]

Hypnotherapie nutzt Trance und Suggestion im therapeu- tischen Kontext erfolgreich und mit empirisch belegter Wirksamkeit, z.B. zur Therapie von Süchten, Belastungsstörungen und Schmerzen. Allerdings existieren kaum ex- perimentell gesicherte Erkenntnisse über die neurobiolo- gischen Mechanismen des Trancezustandes. Noch weniger ist bekannt, wie Suggestion die Informationsverarbeitung externer Reize so verändert, dass sie eine andere Quali- tät erhalten. Während erste Studien die neurobiologische Mechanismen von hypnotische Analgesie untersucht ha- ben, ist bisher kaum etwas über andere Sinnesmodalitäten bekannt. Die hier präsentierte Studie behandelt den Ein- fluss von hypnotisch suggerierter visueller Blockade auf die visuelle Wahrnehmung. Versuchspersonen wurden mittels Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility und Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale auf ihre hyp- notische Suggestibilität getestet. 19 hochsuggestible Per- sonen (Jena) bzw. 12 Versuchspersonen (Trier: 4 niedrig-, 4 mittel-, 4 hochsuggestible) bearbeiteten zwei Mal einen visuellen 3 Stimulus Oddball, einmal mit und einmal ohne hypnotische Trance und hypnotischer Suggestion in aus- balancierter Reihenfolge. Für die hypnotische Suggestion wurden die Probanden zunächst in eine Entspannungs- trance gesprochen; anschließend wurde ihnen suggeriert, dass ein Brett ihre Sicht auf den Monitor blockiert. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass hochsuggestible Personen unter hypnotischer Trance mit suggerierter visueller Blockade weniger Zielreize zählten. Damit übereinstimmend, zei- gen die ereigniskorrelierten Potentiale der Hochsugges- tiblen eine deutliche Reduktion der parietalen P3 auf den Zielreiz. Somit beeinflusste die hypnotische Suggestion unter Trance nicht die sensorische Wahrnehmung der Reize, sondern veränderte spezifisch die Aufmerksamkeit und Bewertung des Zielreizes. Diese Replikationsstudien geben einen ersten Hinweis über die Wirkungsweise und neuronale Mechanismen der Hypnose und Suggestion und ihre Wechselwirkung mit Suggestibilität, einem sta- bilen Persönlichkeitskonstrukt. [less ▲]

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See detailNeuronale Korrelate der Verarbeitung emotionaler Bilder
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Naumann, Ewald

Scientific Conference (2014, January)

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See detailEnhanced emotional regulation after provocation through stress- the influence of acute stress and provocation on affective picture processing: an event-related potential study
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Rapoport, Olja et al

Poster (2014)

The stress hormone cortisol has been identified as an important factor promoting aggression. Taken by itself, cortisol and aggression have been shown to alter the processing of social relevant information ... [more ▼]

The stress hormone cortisol has been identified as an important factor promoting aggression. Taken by itself, cortisol and aggression have been shown to alter the processing of social relevant information, the latter being crucial in the development of a vicious cycle of violence. However, the mutual influence of cortisol and aggression on information processing has hardly been examined, even though this might provide insight into the underlying mechanisms of the escalation and the persistence of aggressive behavior, once it has begun. Thus, the present study investigated the effect of stress-induced rise in cortisol and provoked aggression on affective picture processing. 71 subjects were randomly assigned to a stress or a control condition and were either highly or mildly provoked during the subsequent Taylor Aggression Paradigm. Next, 144 pictures with positive, negative or aggressive content were presented. Meanwhile the EEG was recorded and acute levels of salivary cortisol were collected. Results revealed that cortisol and provocation jointly altered especially later event-related components (P300, slow waves), albeit in opposite direction. While high provocation resulted in overall enhanced amplitudes in the control group, it led to reduced amplitudes to all affective pictures in subjects with stress-induced increase of cortisol levels, indicating a general emotional regulation. These results suggest that adaptive controlling mechanisms are activated to face the mutual impact of stress and provocation, underlining the impact of cortisol in the context of aggression. [less ▲]

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See detailAkuter Stress führt zu einer veränderten Verarbeitung von provozierenden Stimuli im Taylor-Aggressions-Paradigma – eine EKP Studie
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Naumann, Ewald

Poster (2013)

Befunde aus tier- und humanexperimentelle Studien zeigen, dass Stress ein wesentlicher Faktor in der Ausl ̈osung und Aufrechterhal- tung von aggressivem Verhalten ist. So beeinflusst Stress und Cor- tisol ... [more ▼]

Befunde aus tier- und humanexperimentelle Studien zeigen, dass Stress ein wesentlicher Faktor in der Ausl ̈osung und Aufrechterhal- tung von aggressivem Verhalten ist. So beeinflusst Stress und Cor- tisol unter anderem die Verarbeitung von bedrohlichen Stimuli, wie z.B. w ̈utenden Gesichtern. Der Einfluss von Stress und Cortisol auf die Verarbeitung aggressionsausl ̈osender Stimuli w ̈ahrend eines ag- gressiven Encounters wurde bisher noch nicht erforscht. Um dies zu untersuchen, durchliefen in der vorliegenden Studie 71 gesunde Pro- banden (36 m, 35 w) zun ̈achst eine Stressprozedur (sozial evalua- tive Kaltwasser Stresstest) bzw. ein Warmwasser-Kontrollprozedur. Anschließend wurde die H ̈alfte jeder Gruppe im Taylor Aggressions- Paradigma provoziert. W ̈ahrend des Experiments wurde das EEG aufgezeichnet und mehrere Speichelproben zur Cortisolanalyse ge- nommen, auf deren Grundlage Probanden der Kaltwassergruppe in Cortisol-Responder und –Nonresponder unterteilt wurden. Die Aus- wertung von Ereigniskorrelierten Potentialen (EKPs) bez ̈uglich des provozierenden Stimulus ergab, dass provozierte Probanden eine po- sitivere frontozentrale P3 zeigten als nicht provozierte. W ̈ahrend stressinduzierter Cortisolanstieg diesen Effekt bei Frauen verst ̈arkte, zeigten provozierte m ̈annliche Cortisol-Responder reduzierte P3 Am- plituden. Diese Befunde zeigen eine neurophysiologische Assoziation zwischen Stress und Aggression bezüglich der Verarbeitung von ag- gressionsausl ̈osenden Signalen, was wesentlich für die Eskalation von aggressivem Verhalten sein könnte. [less ▲]

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See detailStress and Aggression – The influence of stress on processing of provoking stimuli during a retaliation paradigm- an ERP study
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Naumann, Ewald

Scientific Conference (2012, July)

Many studies suggest a vicious circle between stress and aggression. But its physiological basis is not fully understood. Trait aggression and externalizing behavior are characterized by reduced P3 waves ... [more ▼]

Many studies suggest a vicious circle between stress and aggression. But its physiological basis is not fully understood. Trait aggression and externalizing behavior are characterized by reduced P3 waves in Event Related Potentials (ERP). Stress affects the processing of aggression related stimuli. Moreover, the stress hormone cortisol enhances the attention to social threat and the propensity for aggression. The aim of the present study was to asses the effect of acute stress and the concomitant cortisol release on the processing of provoking stimuli during an aggressive encounter using the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP). 71 healthy participants (36 men) were subjected to the socially evaluated cold pressor test as an experimental stressor or to a warm pressor test (control condition). Half of each group received high or low levels of provocation in the TAP. Throughout the experiment EEG was recorded, and salivary cortisol was collected. Stressed participants were divided into cortisol-responders and –non responders. Event-related potentials during provoking stimuli revealed that highly provoked participants had a more positive P3 amplitude (fronto-central) compared to hardly provoked participants, replicating previous findings. Increased cortisol combined with provocation led to a reduced P3 amplitude and reduced late positive potentials in cortisol-responders. The results suggest that an interaction between stressor-induced cortisol and provocation affects the processing of conflict signals and contributes to a vicious cycle between stress and aggression. [less ▲]

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See detailEinfluss von akutem Stress & Provokation auf die Verarbeitung emotionaler Bilder
Dierolf, Angelika UL; Fechtner, Julia; Naumann, Ewald

in Miltner, Wolfgang; Weiss, Thomas (Eds.) Prorgammheft und Abstractband der PuG 2012 (2012, June)

Research has shown that the stress hormone cortisol is important for the regulation of social motivational processes. Besides, aggression is a common behavior which is frequently involved in changes in ... [more ▼]

Research has shown that the stress hormone cortisol is important for the regulation of social motivational processes. Besides, aggression is a common behavior which is frequently involved in changes in higher level information processing patterns. However, the influence of the interaction between both on information processing has been hardly examined, even though there is some evidence that cortisol plays a crucial role in the attention to social threat and release of aggressive behavior. Thus, the aim of the present study was to access the effect of acute stress, the thereby caused cortisol release and provocation on affective picture processing. 71 healthy subjects were subjected to the socially evaluated cold pressor test or warm pressor test (control condition). Half of each group received high or low levels of provocation during the Taylor Aggression Paradigm. Afterwards, 144 emotional pictures with positive, negative or aggressive content were presented. Throughout the experiment EEG was recorded and acute levels of salivary cortisol were collected. Established effects within the event-related potentials depending on the presented emotion could be replicated. Moreover, preliminary results indicate that event-related earlier (N2, P2), as well as later components (P3, slow waves) are complexly influenced by endogenous cortisol and provocation, suggesting an effect on various stages of socially relevant information processing of stimuli. [less ▲]

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