Data Blitz

Congratulations to those selected to present! The following talks will be given during the Data Blitz Session:

Attentional bias and cortisol in subclinical depression: a case of resilience?
K. Dedovic1, S. Giebl1, A. Duchesne2, S. Damika Lue3, J. Andrews2, S. Efanov2, V. Engert4, T. Beaudry2, M. Baldwin5, & J. C. Pruessner2,6
1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; 2Integrated Program in Neuroscience, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Canada; 3Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Canada; 4Maxplanck Institute Leipzig, Germany; 5Department of Psychology, McGill University, Canada; 6Aging Institute, McGill University, Canada

Attentional bias toward negative information hinders emotion regulation and is associated with depression. Levels of cortisol may mediate this association; however, little is known about this connection in subclinically depressed individuals. We assessed associations between attentional bias towards happy and sad faces, and cortisol levels collected in several contexts in a control, a subclinical, and a high-risk subclinical group. The subclinical group showed attentional bias towards happy faces, which was positively related to the degree of problem focused coping strategies the subclinical participants had used to deal with a personally relevant stressor in the month prior to the testing and to state anxiety levels on the day of the testing. Total cortisol output during the task was only positively related to state anxiety prior to the task. The attentional bias toward happy faces may reflect an active attempt by the subclinical participants to cope with their depressive tendencies.


Transient Stress in a Laboratory Setting Impacts the Coupling of HPA and HPG Axes During Adolescence
A. Dismukes, M. Johnson2, J. Phan1, J. L. Hanson3, S. D. Pollak3, & E. A. Shirtcliff1
1University of New Orleans; 2St. Elizabeth’s Hospital; 3University of Wisconsin

The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) and –Gonadal (HPG) axes have long been thought to operate in a mutually antagonistic fashion. Emerging evidence suggests that the HPA and HPG axis could be mutually excitatory, or, ‘coupled’. This project examined HPA-HPG cross-axis coupling in a study of 120 adolescents who provided up to 32 saliva samples each across 5 days including one stressful lab-day. Analyses used a three-level HLM to examine momentary coupling. HPA and HPG axes were indeed coupled (p<.001), and the link between these axes diminished over the course of the day (p<.001). HPA-HPG coupling was strongest across stressful days (p=.05), and the impact of lab-day stress on coupling persisted across the day (p=.05). Findings suggest these axes show “cross-talk” but this may be for positive links across axes, at least within adolescents. HPA-HPG coupling may be dynamic, moderated by proximal environmental factors including both time of day and day-time stressors.


Intranasal oxytocin effects on autonomic activity in men
A. E. Gaffey & M. M. Wirth
University of Notre Dame

Several theories have been proposed to explain how the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) affects human pro-social behaviors. One theory holds that OT decreases stress and anxiety, hereby increasing trust and pro-social behaviors (Campbell, 2010). Intranasal OT decreases cortisol levels elicited by social stress (Linnen et al., 2011). However, few studies have examined OT’s influence on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Knowledge of how OT affects ANS activity is crucial for theoretical reasons and to inform related clinical research using. In a double-blind study, men were administered a single dose (24 I.U.) of intranasal OT or placebo. Five minutes of resting heart rate (HR) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) data were collected at three time points: 1) 10 minutes prior to drug administration, 2) 10 minutes after administration, and 3) 1 ½
hours post-administration. Preliminary results indicate that OT does
not affect HR or RSA. Therefore, OT may not affect ANS activity.


Testosterone administration increases threat-related neural function in men
S. M. M. Goetz1, L. Tang1, M. P. Diamond2,3, M. E. Thomason4,5, & J. M. Carré1
Wayne State University, 1Department of Psychology; 2Obstetrics & Gynecology; 3School of Medicine; 4Department of Pediatrics; 5Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child and Family Development

The current study presents results from a novel castration and replacement fMRI protocol in healthy young men. This study employed a placebo-control, within subject, double-blinded design in which men’s (N = 16) testosterone levels were suppressed to hypogonadal levels after which testosterone (or placebo) was administered prior to undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Exogenous testosterone was shown to increase threat- related neural functioning. Specifically, testosterone administration increased central medial amygdala, bilateral hypothalamus and periaqueductal grey reactivity to angry faces. These findings indicate that testosterone can rapidly influence threat- related neural function in healthy young men. Future work will use this pharmacological challenge paradigm to investigate effects of testosterone on social behaviors including aggression and risk-taking.


Placental Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone Mediates the Association between Prenatal Social Support and Postpartum Depression
J. Hahn-Holbrook1, C. D. Schetter1, C. Arora2, & C. J. Hobel,1,2
1University of California, Los Angeles; 2Cedars-Sinai

Three decades of research point to both biological and psychological risk factors for postpartum depression, but very little research integrates the two. This study bridged this gap by testing whether prenatal social support predicted depressive symptoms at 8 weeks postpartum in a multi-ethnic sample of 210 women, and whether the stress hormone, placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH), measured at 19, 29, and 37 weeks gestation, mediated this relationship. We found that prenatal family support predicted fewer depressive symptoms postpartum and more gradual increases in pCRH from 29 to 37 weeks gestation. Furthermore, steeper increases in pCRH from 29 to 37 weeks predicted more depressive symptoms postpartum. Finally, changes in pCRH in late pregnancy mediated the relationship between prenatal family support and postpartum depressive symptoms. These results suggest that social and biological risk factors for postpartum depressive symptoms are intertwined, and move us closer to an integrated biopsychosocial understanding of postpartum depression.


The Sexual and Anxiety-like Behaviors of Male Rats in a Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
W. R. Hawley, E. M. Grissom, & G. P. Dohanich
Tulane University

Posttraumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), which is characterized by the re-experiencing of intrusive thoughts associated with a trauma, is often associated with sexual difficulties. In the current studies, sexually-experienced male rats were exposed to a discrete stressor followed 3 and 7 days later by exposures to reminders of the stressor, which were designed to mimic the re-experiencing of intrusive thoughts. After the final reminder, stressed rats exhibited reduced sexual motivation, indicated by
prolonged mount and intromission latencies, as well as elevated anxiety in a novel open field, indicated by longer latencies to begin feeding, fewer center entries, and less activity. Interestingly, better memory for the stressor, which was indicated by more freezing behavior during exposure to reminders, was correlated with reduced sexual motivation and elevated anxiety. These results suggest that the re-experiencing and intensity of intrusive thoughts may contribute to alterations in affective and sexual outcomes that are often associated with PTSD.


Satisfaction with Social Network Support Moderates the Effect of Daily Spousal Conflict on Diurnal Cortisol
E. Keneski, T. A. Morgan, L. A. Neff, & T. J. Loving
University of Texas at Austin

Although social network support has been linked to a variety of positive health outcomes, the mechanisms underlying this association have yet to be fully elucidated. The present study tested whether satisfaction with network support buffers individuals from the negative physiological consequences of marital conflict. Newlywed couples (N = 104) reported their satisfaction with social network support outside their marriage before completing a 6-day daily diary. As part of this diary task, spouses completed daily reports of martial conflict and provided daily waking and evening saliva samples for assessing cortisol levels. Analyses revealed that spouses who were more (versus less) satisfied with social network support experienced healthier (steeper) diurnal cortisol slopes on days in which they experienced greater marital conflict. Therefore, feeling able to depend on satisfying, supportive relationships with friends and family during relationship strain may be one avenue by which social network support contributes to better physical health.


The effect of social stress and testosterone on reactions to unfairness in bargaining interactions
S. Prasad1, J. Narayanan2, P. H. Mehta1, V. K.G. Lim2, G. Koh2, & D. Koh2
1University of Oregon; 2National University of Singapore

Previous research on testosterone’s role in bargaining interactions has yielded inconsistent results (e.g. Burnham, 2007; Mehta & Beer, 2010 Zethraeus & colleagues, 2009). We sought to address this inconsistency by testing the hypothesis that stress moderates the relationship between testosterone and bargaining behavior. Thirty-nine participants (49% women) were randomly assigned to experience a social stressor or no stressor and then played the Ultimatum Game, a bargaining game in which participants decide to accept or reject fair and unfair monetary offers from another player. Consistent with our predictions, testosterone was positively associated with the rejection of unfair offers in the no-stress condition. These findings suggest that the influence of testosterone on bargaining decisions depends on the presence or absence of stress in the environment. Implications of the findings for theories of hormones, bargaining, and sensitivity to unfairness are discussed.


Social and developmental factors associated with fecal hormone levels in male Costa Rican white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus)
V. A. M. Schoof1, K. M. Jack1, C. R. Sheller1, & T. E. Ziegler2
1 Department of Anthropology, Tulane University; 2 Assay Services Unit, Wisconsin National Primate Research Center

Developments in field methods allow non-invasive assessments of hormone levels in wild animals. Here we highlight social and developmental factors associated with variation in fecal androgen and glucocorticoid (fGC) levels of male white-faced capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Alpha males have higher androgen and fGC levels than subordinates, with levels increasing after the attainment of alpha status. Regardless of male age and rank status, the presence of fertile females is associated with increases in testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and fGC. Variation in testosterone, but not dihydrotestosterone or fGC, is associated with male life history: infants and juveniles have the lowest testosterone levels, and increase at the subadult stage and continue to do so into adulthood. Analyses of fecal samples yield new information about variation in male hormone levels according to dominance status, the presence of fertile females, and life history stage in a wild primate.


Baseline fecal hormone levels among juvenile female Costa Rican white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus)
C. R. Sheller1, K. M. Jack1, & T. Ziegler2
1Tulane University; 2University of Wisconsin

Fecal sampling allows for non-invasive evaluation of hormone levels among wild primates. Progesterone and estradiol profiles were examined for 14 juvenile female capuchins (2-7 years old). The majority of subjects (N=11) reflect the predicted endocrine silence of the juvenile period as baseline levels of progesterone and estradiol are not significantly different within or between individuals. The oldest three subjects show fluctuating levels of progesterone and estradiol indicative of ovulatory cycling. Two of these individuals went on to give birth at the end of the study period. These hormonal results confirm that white-faced capuchins have a remarkably long juvenile period for primates of their body size.


Variation in Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) Polymorphisms is Associated with Emotional and Behavioral Reactions to Betrayal
B. A. Tabak1, M. E. McCullough1, C. S. Carver1, E. J. Pedersen1, & M. L. Cuccaro2
1Department of Psychology, University of Miami; 2Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) have been associated with many aspects of social-cognitive functioning, including several prosocial behaviors. However, potential associations of OXTR with reactions to betrayals of trust while cooperating for mutual benefit have not yet been explored.We examined how variation in 10 SNPs on OXTR predicted behavior, emotional reactions, and partner perceptions following a betrayal of trust in an iterated prisoner’s dilemma game. After correction for multiple testing, one haplotype (C-rs9840864, T-rs2268494) was significantly associated with faster retaliation post-betrayal—an association that appeared to be due to this haplotype’s intermediate effect of exacerbating people’s anger after they had been betrayed. Furthermore, one haplotype (A-rs237887, C-rs2268490) was associated with higher levels of post-betrayal satisfaction, and one haplotype (G-rs237887, C-rs2268490) was associated with lower levels of post-betrayal satisfaction.


The Burden of Online Friends: The Effects of Giving Up Facebook on Stress
E. J. Vanman, R. Baker, & S. J. Tobin
University of Queensland

As the number of Facebook users continues to grow, the number of friends one has on Facebook grows as well. A larger social network should have positive health effects, but Dunbar’s (1992) Social Brain Hypothesis predicts that we exceed our capacity to manage a social network when it is greater than 150. In our study, 96 participants were randomly assigned to either a group in which they gave up Facebook for five days or a group that continued to engage in normal Facebook activity. Saliva samples were collected before and after the manipulation. Analyses revealed that giving up Facebook reduced cortisol levels, whereas normal Facebook activity was associated with a slight increase in cortisol. Self-reports of life satisfaction increased for the normal Facebook group, but not for the no-Facebook group. These findings were moderated by the social network size, and thus provide further support for the Social Brain Hypothesis.


Self-construal moderates the effect of competition outcome on testosterone and cortisol reactivity
K. M. Welker, S. M. M. Goetz, E. Lozoya, J. Campbell, & J. M. Carré
Department of Psychology, Wayne State University

During competition, hormones fluctuate as a function of the outcome of the competitive interaction and are influenced by individual difference factors. Because self-construal has important implications for how individuals conceptualize their self in relation to others, it may be an important moderator of neuroendocrine reactivity to competitive outcomes. Here, we investigated whether self-construal moderated the effects of competitive outcome on testosterone and cortisol reactivity. Testosterone and cortisol were measured before and after participants played a video game in which the outcome (win vs. loss) was experimentally manipulated. For men with a relatively more independent self-construal (but not interdependent self-construal), victories resulted in increases in testosterone and decreases in cortisol, whereas losses resulted in decreases in testosterone and increases in cortisol. These results broadly suggest that self-construal modulates neuroendocrine reactivity to social events and that biomarkers of social status are dependent on how interrelated one’s self concept is with others.


Temporary cognitive impairment in men exposed to happy female faces: the mediating role of cortisol
S. Zilioli, E. Caldbick, M. Ferrari, & N. Watson
Simon Fraser University

Evidence suggests that brief social interactions with attractive women leads to a rapid increase in cortisol release as well as a temporary cognitive decline in heterosexual men. Surprisingly, no research has tried to combine these two lines of evidence in a single experiment. Here we investigated whether exposure to happy female faces (as opposed to other same-sex or opposite sex facial expressions) would lead to a raise in cortisol as well as a later impairment in cognitive performance in a population of young heterosexual men (n=85). Our results indicate that men who viewed faces of smiling women had an increase in cortisol and experienced a temporary decline in their spatial abilities, as reflected by their score on a mental rotation test. Simple mediation analyses further confirmed the hypothesis that exposure to happy female faces (compared to angry female faces) influences cognitive performance in men, partially through changes in circulating cortisol.

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