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The temporal dynamics of acute stress effects on cognitive processing in humans: An empirical evaluation of three cognitive stress effect models (ca. 425.000,00€))

Prize: Fellow/scholarshipResearch projects/Networks


The present project addresses the fundamental question of how acute stress affects different aspects of cognitive processing in humans. To explain such stress effects on cognitive processing, many different stress effect models have been developed to date. These models primarily differ in their assumptions about (1) the processes that are most strongly affected under acute stress and (2) the neurophysiological mediators of these stress effects, with the stress hormones (nor)epinephrine and cortisol being among the most promising candidates. Specifically, there are three classes of cognitive stress effect models that particular differ in their assumptions about (acute) stress and stress hormone effects on cognitive processing over time. To evaluate the predictive value of these model classes towards cognitive processing under stress, an interventional psychopharmacological stress study is proposed. In addition to monitoring multiple cognitive processes over a prolonged period of time (>180 min), this study relies on a combination of standardized stress-induction protocols with pharmacological manipulations of stress hormone availability. By manipulating both the treatment (stress) and the potential mediators of its effects on cognitive processing (cortisol and norepinephrine), this project has the objective to identify the cognitive stress effect model that can best explain how acute stress unfolds its impact on human cognition.