Social Stress Increases Cortisol and Hampers Attention in Adolescents with Excess Weight
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AutorVerdejo-García, Antonio; Moreno-Padilla, María; García-Ríos, María del Carmen; López Torrecillas, Francisca; Delgado-Rico, Elena; Schmidt Rio-Valle, Jacqueline; Fernández-Serrano, María José
Public Library of Science (PLOS)
HydrocortisoneObesityDecision makingAdolescentsPsychological stressCognitionBody mass indexVirtual reality
Verdejo-García, A.;et al. Social Stress Increases Cortisol and Hampers Attention in Adolescents with Excess Weight. Plos One, 10(4): e0123565 (2015). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/35873]
PatrocinadorThis study has been funded by grants PSI2010-17290 (INTEROBE) from the Ministry of Innovation and Science (MICINN), and P-10-HUM-6635 (NEUROECOBE).
Objective: To experimentally examine if adolescents with excess weight are more sensitive to social stress and hence more sensitive to harmful effects of stress in cognition.Design and Methods: We conducted an experimental study in 84 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years old classified in two groups based on age adjusted Body Mass Index percentile: Normal weight (n=42) and Excess weight (n=42). Both groups were exposed to social stress as induced by the virtual reality version of the Trier Social Stress Task --participants were requested to give a public speech about positive and negative aspects of their personalities in front of a virtual audience. The outcome measures were salivary cortisol levels and performance in cognitive tests before and after the social stressor. Cognitive tests included the CANTAB Rapid Visual Processing Test (measuring attention response latency and discriminability) and the Iowa Gambling Task (measuring decision-making).Results: Adolescents with excess weight compared to healthy weight controls displayed increased cortisol response and less improvement of attentional performance after the social stressor. Decision-making performance decreased after the social stressor in both groups.Conclusion: Adolescents who are overweight or obese have increased sensitivity to social stress, which detrimentally impacts attentional skills.