Effects of single cortisol administrations on human affect reviewed: Coping with stress through adaptive regulation of automatic cognitive processing
SourcePsychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 4, (2011), pp. 438-448
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
The human stress hormone cortisol may facilitate effective coping after psychological stress. In apparent agreement, administration of cortisol has been demonstrated to reduce fear in response to stressors. For anxious patients with phobias or posttraumatic stress disorder this has been ascribed to hypothetical inhibition of retrieval of traumatic memories. However, such stress-protective effects may also work via adaptive regulation of early cognitive processing of threatening information from the environment. This paper selectively reviews the available literature on effects of single cortisol administrations on affect and early cognitive processing of affectively significant information. The concluded working hypothesis is that immediate effects of high concentration of cortisol may facilitate stress-coping via inhibition of automatic processing of goal-irrelevant threatening information and through increased automatic approach avoidance responses in early emotional processing. Limitations in the existing literature and suggestions for future directions are briefly discussed.
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