Assessment of the human response to acute mental stress-An overview and a multimodal study

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


Numerous vital signs are reported in association with stress response assessment, but their application varies widely. This work provides an overview over methods for stress induction and strain assessment, and presents a multimodal experimental study to identify the most important vital signs for effective assessment of the response to acute mental stress. We induced acute mental stress in 65 healthy participants with the Mannheim Multicomponent Stress Test and acquired self-assessment measures (Likert scale, Self-Assessment Manikin), salivary α-amylase and cortisol concentrations as well as 60 vital signs from biosignals, such as heart rate variability parameters, QT variability parameters, skin conductance level, and breath rate. By means of statistical testing and a self-optimizing logistic regression, we identified the most important biosignal vital signs. Fifteen biosignal vital signs related to ventricular repolarization variability, blood pressure, skin conductance, and respiration showed significant results. The logistic regression converged with QT variability index, left ventricular work index, earlobe pulse arrival time, skin conductance level, rise time and number of skin conductance responses, breath rate, and breath rate variability (F1 = 0.82). Selfassessment measures indicated successful stress induction. α-amylase and cortisol showed effect sizes of -0.78 and 0.55, respectively. In summary, the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenocortical axis and sympathetic nervous system were successfully activated. Our findings facilitate a coherent and integrative understanding of the assessment of the stress response and help to align applications and future research concerning acute mental stress.


FachzeitschriftPloS one
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Nov. 2023

Externe IDs

ORCID /0000-0001-6754-5257/work/146641779
ORCID /0000-0002-6673-9591/work/146644063
PubMed 37943894
Scopus 85176466630


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  • Mental stress, Acute stress, Stress response, Cortisol, Amylase, Electrocardiography, Photoplethysmography, Blood pressure, QT Interval, QT interval variability, Heart rate variabiity, Respiration, Respiration variability, skin conductance, skin conductance response, Electrodermal activity, stress assessment, stress measurement, Psychological Stress, Mannheim Multicomponent Stress Test, Self-assessment, Self-assessment Manikin, Autonomic nervous system, stress physiology, Multimodal, Multimodal Imaging/instrumentation, pulse arrival time, cardiac output, stroke volume, QT Interval variability, Blood Pressure, Sympathetic Nervous System/metabolism, Humans, Hydrocortisone, Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System/metabolism, Pituitary-Adrenal System/metabolism, Saliva/metabolism, Stress, Psychological, Salivary alpha-Amylases/metabolism