Publications by authors named "Johanna Janson"

3 Publications

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Higher trait reappraisal predicts stronger HPA axis habituation to repeated stress.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2019 03 23;101:12-18. Epub 2018 Oct 23.

Department of Psychology, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Electronic address:

Undergoing stress can be advantageous when it leads to adaptation and growth; however, failure of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to habituate (i.e., nonhabituation) involves continuing to become highly activated in response to repeated exposure of the same stimulus and is considered maladaptive. Although 50-75% of individuals assessed in a laboratory exhibit adaptive habituation to repeated stress, variability in habituation suggests psychological processes used in response to stress may play a role, such as emotion regulation (ER). Nonetheless, no research to date has investigated whether ER strategies affect HPA axis habituation. We investigated whether tendency to use two ER strategies, reappraisal and suppression, influenced HPA axis habituation among 84 healthy young adults (60.7% female; M = 24.8 years, SD = 6.0) exposed to a standardized experimental stress paradigm on two consecutive days. HPA axis stress responses were assessed using salivary cortisol concentrations. We also examined whether non-manipulated state ER strategies (i.e., those used by the participant during and following the stressor on the first day) modulated HPA axis habituation over and above trait-use in a subsample (N = 60). Trait, but not state, reappraisal was associated with stronger HPA axis habituation. Neither trait nor state suppression were significantly associated with HPA axis habituation. These findings expand our current understanding of how ER can affect stress-related health outcomes and suggest habitual reappraisal plays an important role in adaption of the HPA axis to stress.
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March 2019

Distraction coping predicts better cortisol recovery after acute psychosocial stress.

Biol Psychol 2017 09 22;128:117-124. Epub 2017 Jul 22.

Chair of Health Psychology, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nägelsbachstraße 49a, 91052 Erlangen, Germany.

The aim of this study was to explore whether different manifestations of state coping predict cortisol response and recovery in an acute stress situation. Fifty-nine healthy adults (59.3% female) were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), and salivary cortisol was measured repeatedly before and after stress. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to test for relationships between factor-analytically derived measures of state coping and cortisol response and recovery. Independent of sex, age, BMI, chronic stress and depression, denial coping was related with higher peak levels of cortisol (β=0.0798, SE=0.0381, p=0.041) while distraction coping predicted steeper recovery after TSST (linear effect: β=-0.0430, SE=0.0184, p=0.023) and less pronounced curvature (quadratic effect: β=0.0043, SE=0.0017, p=0.016). Our results demonstrate the stress-buffering effect of distraction coping on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity in situations without sufficient control.
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September 2017

Meta-analytical assessment of the effects of protocol variations on cortisol responses to the Trier Social Stress Test.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017 Jun 1;80:26-35. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Brandeis University, Psychology Department, 415 South St. MS062, Waltham, MA 02454 USA. Electronic address:

Background: The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) is one of the most widely used laboratory stress tests. Exposure to this psychosocial stressor has been shown to stimulate an acute cortisol stress response in the majority of healthy individuals, while deviations from the typical pattern, i.e., cortisol reactivity dysfunctions have been linked to an ever-increasing number of negative health outcomes. However, significant variability between labs exists in strength of observed cortisol responses in healthy individuals. This variability raises the question of how to distinguish across labs between cortisol stress response patterns that reflect health risk from those that are due to methodological differences. Thus, we propose a systematic review and meta-analysis that aims at quantifying the effects of methodological variation in study and TSST protocol elements on cortisol stress responses in healthy individuals.

Methods: Literature searches were conducted using standard databases for English language with key words including Trier Social Stress Test, TSST, Cortisol, and Laboratory Stressor among others. 186 studies met our inclusion criteria of healthy human participants without systemic immunological or endocrine dysfunction and provided sufficient information to compute a total of 237 sub-sample effect sizes.

Results And Discussion: With regard to study protocol variations that may risk confounding baseline cortisol values and thus influence subsequent reactivity measures, meta-analytical examination revealed that acclimation periods pre-TSST below 30 or perhaps even 15min may suffice, at least as long as no interfering activities, i.e., questionnaires, are taking place during that timeframe. Assessing the effects of TSST protocol variations on cortisol response strength, several observations are noteworthy. First, shortening speech preparation time did not change cortisol responses in any way, nor did including questionnaires during that period show an effect. As such, our findings suggest that speech preparation time is one TSST element that can be used to reduce the burden for participants as well as laboratory logistics. Secondly, having an all female panel and instructing panel members to show negative instead of neutral behavior towards the participants both were associated with considerably reduced cortisol stress response strengths. Thirdly, several variables of interest, such as content of the speech task or gender match between active panel member and participant, were problematic to evaluate due to the large number of studies not reporting those details. This calls for future studies to report more details regarding potentially relevant protocol specifications.
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June 2017