The relationships between expressed emotion, cortisol, and EEG alpha asymmetry

Journal article


Wang, G.Y., Crook-Rumsey, M., Sumich, A., Dulson, D., Gao,T. T. and Premkumar, P. (2023). The relationships between expressed emotion, cortisol, and EEG alpha asymmetry. Physiology and Behavior. 269 (114276). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2023.114276
AuthorsWang, G.Y., Crook-Rumsey, M., Sumich, A., Dulson, D., Gao,T. T. and Premkumar, P.
Abstract

Families can express high criticism, hostility and emotional over-involvement towards a person with or at risk of mental health problems. Perceiving such high expressed emotion (EE) can be a major psychological stressor for individuals, especially those at risk of mental health problems. To reveal the biological mechanisms underlying the effect of EE on health, this study investigated physiological response (salivary cortisol, frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA)) to verbal criticism and their relationship to anxiety and perceived EE. Using a repeated-measures design, healthy participants attended three testing sessions on non-consecutive days. On each day, participants listened to one of three types of auditory stimuli, namely criticism, neutral or praise, and Electroencephalography (EEG) and salivary cortisol were measured. Results showed a reduction in cortisol following criticism but there was no significant change in FAA. Post-criticism cortisol concentration negatively correlated with perceived EE after controlling for baseline mood. Our findings suggest that salivary cortisol change responds to criticism in non-clinical populations might be largely driven by individual differences in the perception of criticism (e.g., arousal and relevance). Criticisms expressed by audio comments may not be explicitly perceived as an acute emotional stressor, and thus, physiological change responds to criticisms could be minimum.

KeywordsExpressed emotion; psychological stressor; cortisol; frontal alpha asymmetry
Year2023
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Journal citation269 (114276)
PublisherElsevier
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2023.114276
Web address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938423002019?via%3Dihub
Publication dates
Print24 Jun 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Jun 2023
Deposited30 Jun 2023
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Open
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