Gender differences in salivary alpha-amylase and attentional bias towards negative facial expressions following acute stress induction

Andrea Rose Carr, Alana Scully, Miriam Webb, Kim Louise Felmingham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated gender differences in two key processes involved in anxiety, arousal and attentional bias towards threat. Arousal was assessed using salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), a biomarker of noradrenergic arousal and attention bias using a dot-probe task. Twenty-nine women and 27 men completed the dot-probe task and provided saliva samples before and after a stress induction [cold pressor stress (CPS) test]. Women displayed a significant increase in arousal (sAA) following the stressor compared to men, who displayed a significant reduction in arousal. Reaction time data revealed a significant avoidance of threat in women at baseline, but a significant change to an attention bias towards threat following the stressor. Men did not significantly respond to the stressor in terms of attentional bias. These findings suggest that women are more reactive to a stressor than men, and display an initial avoidance response to threat, but an attentional bias towards threat following stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-324
Number of pages10
JournalCognition and Emotion
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Arousal
  • Attention bias
  • Dot probe
  • Gender differences
  • Noradrenaline
  • Salivary alpha-amylase

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