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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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13. Biases in Cognitive Disengagement and Biological Stress Responses in Youth

Researchers have documented that exaggerated biological responses to stress during the preadolescent period predict the onset of depression and anxiety disorders. Thus, it is imperative that we understand factors predicting individual differences in biological responses to stress in preadolescence. There is reason to believe that biases in cognitive disengagement predict individual differences in biological responses to stress. However, this association has never been examined directly. To address this gap in the literature, the present study examined whether cognitive disengagement biases (assessed via biases disengaging from positive and negative information in attention and in working memory) were associated with biological responses to stress. Preadolescents completed measures of cognitive disengagement biases followed by the Trier Social Stress Test for Children, during which we measured neuroendocrine and autonomic responses to stress. Findings indicated that less disengagement of attention from positive information was associated with attenuated biological responses to stress, βs > -0.004, ps < .039. Results point to cognitive mechanisms that may underlie individual differences in biological responses to stress. Further, findings suggest that prolonged attention to positive information may be an important resiliency factor associated with attenuated biological responses to stress that ultimately may protect against the development of depression and anxiety.

Ellen Jopling
University of British Columbia

Alison Tracy
University of British Columbia

Joelle LeMoult
University of British Columbia

 


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