Effect of acute psychological stress on response inhibition: An event-related potential study

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Abstract

This study aimed to investigate the effect of acute psychological stress on response inhibition and its electrophysiological correlates using a dual-task paradigm. Acute stress was induced by a primary task (mental arithmetic task), which consisted of a stress block and a control block. Response inhibition was measured using a secondary task (Go/NoGo task). In each trial, a Go/NoGo stimulus was presented immediately after the mental arithmetic task. The results revealed increased subjective stress and negative affect for the stress relative to control block, suggesting that the mental arithmetic task triggered a reliable stress response. ERPs locked to the Go/NoGo stimuli revealed that decreased P2 and increased N2 components were evoked for the stress block compared to the control block. These results demonstrated that acute psychological stress alters the response inhibition process by reducing the early selective attention process and enhancing the cognitive control process.

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