eCite Digital Repository

The effects of acute stress on attentional networks and working memory in females


Stone, C and Ney, LJ and Felmingham, K and Nichols, D and Matthews, A, The effects of acute stress on attentional networks and working memory in females, Physiology and Behavior, 242 Article 113602. ISSN 0031-9384 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2021.113602


Neurobiological models indicate that acute stress facilitates bottom-up stimulus processing while impairing top-down executive control. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated the effects of acute stress on behavioural and electrophysiological measures of human attentional networks, and behavioural measures of working memory. Forty-five female participants (Mage=22.1, SD=2.4) performed the Attention Network Test (ANT) and the n-back task before and after the Maastricht Acute Stress Test (MAST; n=23) or a non-stressful MAST-placebo (n=22). Subjective distress ratings and salivary cortisol concentrations revealed a successful stress induction. Increased salivary cortisol at baseline was associated with slower reaction times across both tasks, suggesting a general detrimental effect of cortisol on cognitive functioning. Despite these findings, however, the hypothesised effects of the acute stress manipulation were not found for either task. Supplementary analyses indicated that these results were unrelated to the magnitude or duration of the stress response. Our results therefore suggest the standard version of the ANT may be insensitive to the effects of acute stress, and that higher cognitive loads may be necessary to observe stress effects on the n-back task.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:acute stress, attentional networks, workng memory, EEG, ERP
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Psychophysiology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Stone, C (Mr Caleb Stone)
UTAS Author:Ney, LJ (Mr Luke Ney)
UTAS Author:Nichols, D (Dr David Nichols)
UTAS Author:Matthews, A (Dr Allison Matthews)
ID Code:148461
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2022-01-13
Last Modified:2022-03-11

Repository Staff Only: item control page