Matching Items (18)
The transition from high school to college is associated with considerable life strain for adolescents, including higher reported levels of daily stress and negative affect (NA), and alterations in stress physiology have been linked to poor health. The purpose of this thesis was to use an ecological momentary assessment design to study associations between momentary experiences of negative affect and cortisol levels in a sample of adolescents transitioning to college. I also examined the potential moderating effects of two potential vulnerability or protective factors, alone status and perceived social support from friends. Adolescents provided salivary samples and completed paper-and-pencil diary reports of socioemotional experiences and alone status five times per day for three consecutive weekdays, as well as completed self-report questionnaires on perceived social support from friends. Within-person increases in momentary negative affect were associated with momentary cortisol reactivity. Alone status significantly moderated this association such that the association between momentary negative affect and momentary cortisol levels was only significant when individuals were with others and not when they were alone. Perceived social support from friends did not significantly moderate the within-person associations between negative affect and momentary cortisol levels. The findings add to our understanding of physiological correlates of socioemotional experiences, as well as contexts in which these associations may be exaggerated or attenuated. The findings inform our understanding of potential pathways by which physiological reactivity to socioemotional experiences may affect the health of adolescents as well as how prevention efforts could reduce potential poor health outcomes associated with heightened stress reactivity.
This thesis aimed to discover the risks of being a high achieving student, in secondary school contexts. With the growing concern for college admission, the high achieving student has become more prevalent within society. This paper sought to gain deeper understanding into the risks and implications of attempting to achieve excellence for high achievers. Interviews with three frontline personnel at two college preparatory schools and one International Baccalaureate degree program were conducted. It was found that in the studied geographic location, peer pressure and relations, parental pressure, perfectionism, extra-curricular activities, college admission, mental health implications, and coping mechanisms are themes that are highlighted through interviews with primary staff of high achieving students. Although personnel at each of these secondary schools were clearly aware of the stress experienced by their students, a disparity remained between how certain programs managed the stress and how it negatively impacted students. College preparatory faculties appear to be more involved and current on their students' stress. This study was limited and further research should be conducted in the future that expands on this concept in various sociogeographic locations.
Allostatic load in students, commonly referred to as student burnout, is extremely detrimental to emotional, mental, and physical health. Recent studies are finding an uptick in allostatic load in students, as academic pressures continue to rise. In order to meet the changing needs of students, universities should address the effects of overwhelming academic stress and student burnout. My thesis aimed to provide college campuses with the tools they need to do so, particularly through the implementation of Talking Circles. Talking Circles are structured discussions aimed to address specific issues, problems, or talking points. I had the opportunity to design, create, and facilitate Talking Circles with the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) Chapter at Arizona State University. The focus of these circles were designed to have specific emphasis on reducing allostatic load in ASU’s student population. Thus, the Talking Circle prompts, following the principles of positive psychology, focused on emphasizing individual strengths in regards to handling stress. Through individual participant feedback, students felt “empowered, strengthened, and safe” after participating in the Talking Circles. In addition to facilitating these psychosocial support groups, I created a digital toolkit that allows for easier accessibility and distribution of Talking Circles. This allows for not only more students at ASU to feel ‘empowered and strengthened’ but for college students across the U.S. to have the tools, resources, and access to manage stress and reduce allostatic load.
I did a literature review on how childhood trauma causes health issues in the future. Based on the information gathered, I did a clinical proposal for trauma informed care to help address this problem.
Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder with poorly understood genetic and environmental factors. An allelic variant of complement component 4 (C4), a protein first identified in innate immune response is strongly associated with schizophrenia. In the brain, activity of C4 leads to dendritic pruning, a process that may be causal in disease progression. Environmental factors, such as early life exposure to significant stressors also associate with increased risk of schizophrenia in later life. My hypothesis is that these factors do not act independently, but rather in tandem to influence disease etiology.
This hypothesis is supported by previous studies demonstrating that stress-induced elevation of glucocorticoids increases the transcription of C4. I propose that activated glucocorticoid receptors directly increase C4 protein expression as a transcription factor activator. Additionally, I propose that activated glucocorticoid receptors inhibit the expression of the transcription factor nuclear factor-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), thereby leading to decreased expression of the C4 inhibitor CUB and Sushi multiple domains 1 (CSMD1).
Glucocorticoid receptors and C4 are richly expressed in the hippocampus, a region critical in memory consolidation, spatial, and declarative memory. I propose that stress-induced upregulation of C4 activity in the hippocampus promotes excessive synaptic pruning, contributing to specific deficits and hippocampal shrinkage seen in schizophrenia. Stress exposure during fetal development and adolescence likely acts through the proposed mechanisms to increase hippocampal C4 activity and subsequent schizophrenia risk. These mechanisms may reveal novel interactions between environmental and genetic risk factors in the etiology of schizophrenia through complement activation.
Animal assisted activities and therapy have demonstrated efficacy but the question remains of whether the animals themselves are the mechanism of change or if other factors mediate this relationship. We investigated novelty and touch as mediators between therapy dogs and stress reduction as no other study has done both. Additionally, we were interested in whether the belief that a treatment is relaxing or simply providing a break acted as mediators. We explored these relationships using three conditions: therapy dog interaction, massage, and no-treatment control. Interacting with a therapy dog is similar to receiving a massage in each of the mediators of interest. Thus, should the therapy dogs outperform the massage in relieving stress, it suggests something there is something unique about the dogs themselves, beyond the mediators held constant for both the therapy dog and massage condition. We included the no-treatment control to determine whether treatment at all was effective in reducing stress. We tested 40 participants aged 18 to 43 years old over the course of three days. Participants were measured pre-treatment using two self-report surveys of stress, the Stress Overload Scale- Short (SOS-S) and the Stress Appraisal Measure (SAM) as well as a physiological indicator of stress, heart rate variability (HRV) measured by the Scosche Rhythm24 Waterproof Armband Heart Rate Monitor. Participants were randomly assigned to a condition for seven minutes. Afterwards, all measures were readministered. We found no significant interaction of time on condition nor any main effect of condition on any of the measures. However, we found significant main effects of time on both subscales of the SOS-S and the threat, centrality, controllable-by-others, and stressfulness subscales of the SAM. We are unable to determine whether there is a unique benefit of therapy dogs themselves but overall, the event was effective in reducing stress as reported by the participants. We recommend continued investigation of mediators in animal assisted activities and therapy.
Previous studies have found that the detection of near-threshold stimuli is decreased immediately before movement and throughout movement production. This has been suggested to occur through the use of the internal forward model processing an efferent copy of the motor command and creating a prediction that is used to cancel out the resulting sensory feedback. Currently, there are no published accounts of the perception of tactile signals for motor tasks and contexts related to the lips during both speech planning and production. In this study, we measured the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech planning using light electrical stimulation below the lower lip by comparing perception during mixed speaking and silent reading conditions. Participants were asked to judge whether a constant near-threshold electrical stimulation (subject-specific intensity, 85% detected at rest) was present during different time points relative to an initial visual cue. In the speaking condition, participants overtly produced target words shown on a computer monitor. In the reading condition, participants read the same target words silently to themselves without any movement or sound. We found that detection of the stimulus was attenuated during speaking conditions while remaining at a constant level close to the perceptual threshold throughout the silent reading condition. Perceptual modulation was most intense during speech production and showed some attenuation just prior to speech production during the planning period of speech. This demonstrates that there is a significant decrease in the responsiveness of the somatosensory system during speech production as well as milliseconds before speech is even produced which has implications for speech disorders such as stuttering and schizophrenia with pronounced deficits in the somatosensory system.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) is a clinically standardized meditation process that has been shown to facilitate the treatment of a variety of mental and physical disorders. The known efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction is derived from research on participants who are defined as unhealthy in some form. The potential benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction for individuals who are considered to be healthy is under-studied, as less attention has gone into this subject area. Information Measurement Theory is a predictive theory that simplifies reality, and through this logical simplification, allows people to predict and see into the future. The concepts that are central to Information Measurement theory are natural laws, unique conditions, and relationships of unique conditions between the past, present, and future and the event model. This project aims to answer the question of if individuals, who are considered to be healthy, experience the same beneficiary results, that mindfulness-based stress reduction models execute, through the conception and knowledge of Information Measurement Theory. This study aims to compare MBSR and IMT in order to determine the consequences of each on the individual. The purpose of this study is also to highlight the promising success that Leadership Society of Arizona has achieved through the teaching of IMT in leadership courses.
The purpose of our study was to evaluate whether viewing videos of dogs had an effect on the stress response of college students. While there is strong support in the literature for demonstrating the beneficial effect of human-canine interactions on human stress indicators, there is very little to no literature on whether or not this phenomenon translates across a digital medium. We hypothesized that when exposed to a video of golden retriever puppies after a stress-inducing task, an individual would experience an increase in blood pressure recovery rate and a decline in perceived stress. In order to study this, we put together several surveys to test our participants' perceived stress, and we measured blood pressure several times in order to obtain a physiological measure of stress. Additionally, in order to produce a guaranteed stress response in our participants, we gave them 2 minutes to prepare a 4 minute video-recorded speech that they were not made aware of prior to entering the testing facility. After the speech task, the experimental group quietly viewed a pleasant 4 minute video containing imagery of dogs, while the control group sat silently for the same duration of time. During this time, the control group was asked to mentally review their performance and to focus intently on the feelings they experienced while giving their speech. Through these measures we found a significant recovery rate in systolic blood pressure and a trending difference between groups for the decline in negative affect. The data demonstrated that the experimental group had blood pressure levels that were significantly closer to their baseline levels when compared to the control group, whose blood pressure did not decline at the same rate. Additionally, the experimental group experienced a higher level of change in negative affect when asked to self-report their level of stress before the speech task and after the conditional recovery period. Interestingly, these findings can be applied to recent literature suggesting that systolic blood pressure is the most important factor of cardiac health to consider when assessing an individual for risk of heart disease or cardiac arrest. While the sample size of this study was small, the significant reduction in systolic blood pressure within the experimental group could indicate the possible efficacy of utilizing digital media containing imagery of canines as a form of therapy for systolically-hypertensive individuals as a means of managing their condition.
Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.