Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 125, 35-41

Anticipatory Stress Associated With Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Implications for Psychosocial Stress Research

Affiliations

Anticipatory Stress Associated With Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Implications for Psychosocial Stress Research

Ethan W Gossett et al. Int J Psychophysiol.

Abstract

Stress tasks performed during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) elicit a relatively small cortisol response compared to stress tasks completed in a traditional behavioral laboratory, which may be due to apprehension of fMRI that elicits an anticipatory stress response. The present study investigated whether anticipatory stress is greater prior to research completed in an MRI environment than in a traditional behavioral laboratory. Anticipatory stress (indexed by cortisol) was greater prior to testing in the MRI environment than traditional behavioral laboratory. Furthermore, anticipation of fMRI elicited a cortisol response commensurate with the response to the stress task in the behavioral laboratory. However, in the MRI environment, post-stress cortisol was significantly lower than baseline cortisol. Taken together, these findings suggest the stress elicited by anticipation of fMRI may lead to acute elevations in cortisol prior to scanning, which may in turn disrupt the cortisol response to stress tasks performed during scanning.

Keywords: Anticipatory stress; Cortisol; Psychosocial stress; Skin conductance; fMRI.

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure Statement: In the interest of full disclosure DAG is Founder and Chief Scientific and Strategy Advisor at Salimetrics LLC and SalivaBio LLC and these relationships are managed by the policies of the committees on conflict of interest at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of California at Irvine

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Baseline cortisol samples. Baseline cortisol, used as an index of anticipatory stress, was significantly greater in the MRI environment than in the traditional behavioral laboratory. Error bars indicate standard error and asterisk denotes a significant difference.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Baseline and cortisol response levels in the traditional behavioral laboratory and MRI environment. Post-TSST cortisol was significantly greater than baseline in the traditional behavioral laboratory. Post-MIST cortisol was significantly lower than baseline in the MRI environment. Post-TSST cortisol was significantly greater than Post-MIST cortisol. Baseline cortisol in the MRI environment was not significantly different from Post-TSST cortisol in the traditional behavioral laboratory. These results suggest stress elicited in anticipation of fMRI is equivalent to the stress induced by traditional lab-based stress tasks. Error bars indicate standard error.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Heart Rate and Skin Conductance Response (SCR). (A) Heart rate was greater during the Stress than Baseline condition of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). (B) Heart rate was also greater during the Stress than Control condition of the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST). (C) SCR was significantly greater during the Stress than Control condition of the MIST. Error bars indicate standard error and asterisks denote a significant difference.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 4 PubMed Central articles

Publication types

Feedback