The Assessment of the Autonomic Response to Acute Stress Using Electrodermal Activity

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Abstract

The response of autonomic nervous system to mental stress is currently studied as a key role factor in the pathophysiology of stress related diseases. Altered autonomic regulation can result in increased morbidity, potentially affecting (directly or indirectly) any of the organs. Cardiovascular system (CVS) is one of the most sensitive systems to the effect of autonomic outputs. The predictive value of the laboratory stress tests was proved in several studies with CVS pathology. In this study we aimed to assess the autonomic reactivity to different mental stressors (cognitive and emotional) in healthy subjects using electrodermal activity (EDA) as a sensitive psychophysiological marker of sympathetic activity. We found significantly increased EDA in response to all the mental tasks with decrease of the values during recovery periods. However, EDA did not return to the baseline values during recovery periods, potentially indicating the sympathetic arousal during complete stress profile protocol. We suggest EDA presents a well applicable marker of the sympathetic activation, offering a different information about central regulation processes regarding the sympathetic activity compared to cardiac autonomic indices.

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Acta Medica Martiniana

The Journal of Comenius University in Bratislava

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