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The Cold Pressor Stress Test: From basic psychophysiology to application

Der Kaltwasserstresstest: Grundlegende Psychophysiologie und Anwendung

  • The last decades of stress research have yielded substantial advancements highlighting the importance of the phenomenon for basic psychological functions as well as physical health and well-being. Progress in stress research heavily relies on the availability of suitable and well validated laboratory stressors. Appropriate laboratory stressors need to be able to reliably provoke a response in the relevant parameters and be applicable in different research settings or experimental designs. This thesis focuses on the Cold Pressor Test (CPT) as a stress induction technique. Three published experiments are presented that show how the advantages of the CPT can be used to test stress effects on memory processes and how some of its disadvantages can be met by a simple modification that retains its feasibility and validity. The first experiment applies the CPT in a substantial sample to investigate the consolidation effects of post-learning sympathetic arousal. Stressed participants with high increases in heart rate during the CPT showed enhanced memory performance one day after learning compared to both the warm water control group and low heart rate responders. This finding suggests that beta-adrenergic activation elicited shortly after learning enhances memory consolidation and that the CPT induced heart rate response is a predictor for this effect. Moreover, the CPT proved to be an appropriate stressor to test hypothesis about endogenous adrenergic effects on memory processes. The second experiment addresses known practical limitations of the standard dominant hand CPT protocol. A bilateral feet CPT modification is presented, the elicited neuroendocrine stress response assessed and validated against the standard CPT in a within-subjects design. The bilateral feet CPT elicited a substantial neuroendocrine stress response. Moreover, with the exception of blood pressure responses, all stress parameters were enhanced compared to the standard CPT. This shows that the bilateral feet CPT is a valid alternative to the standard CPT. The third experiment further validates the bilateral feet CPT and its corresponding control procedure by employing it in a typical application scenario. Specifically, the bilateral feet CPT was used to modulate retrieval of event files in a distractor-response binding paradigm that required lateralized bimanual responses. Again, the bilateral feet CPT induced significant increases in heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, no such increases could be observed in the warm water control condition. Moreover, stressed participants showed diminished retrieval compared to controls. These results provide further evidence for the feasibility and validity of the bilateral feet CPT and its warm water control procedure. Together the experiments presented here highlight the usefulness of the CPT as a tool in psychophysiological stress research. It is especially well suited to test hypothesis concerning stress effects on memory processes and its applicability can be further increased by the bilateral feet modification.
  • In dieser Dissertation werden 3 Studien vorgestellt, die den Einfluss von Kaltwasserstress auf physiologische und kognitive Parameter untersuchen. Studie 1 belegt einen förderlichen Effekt von mittels Kaltwassertest (CPT) induzierter sympathischer Aktivierung auf Gedächtniskonsolidierung. In Studie 2 wird eine bilaterale Fuß Version des CPTs vorgestellt und validiert. Studie 3 setzt diese neue Version erfolgreich zur Hemmung von Abrufprozessen ein. Die Ergebnisse bestätigen tierexperimentelle Befunde zum Einfluss von Stress auf Gedächtnis und demonstrieren die Vorzüge des bilateralen Fuß CPTs.

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Author:Mauro Larrá y Ramírez
Advisor:Hartmut Schächinger
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2015/09/30
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Granting institution:Universität Trier, Fachbereich 1
Date of final exam:2015/07/16
Release Date:2015/09/30
ANS; Cold Pressor Test; Cortisol; Memory; Stress
GND Keyword:Behalten; Gedächtnis; Glucocorticosteroide; Stress; Vegetatives Nervensystem
Institutes:Fachbereich 1 / Psychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie

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