Cardiovascular and cortisol reactions to acute psychological stress and cognitive ability in the Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study

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Given evidence linking blunted cardiovascular and cortisol reactions to acute stress and a range of adverse behavioral outcomes, the present study examined the associations between cardiovascular and cortisol reactivity and cognitive ability measured independently of the stress task exposure. Cognitive ability was assessed using the Alice Heim-4 test of general intelligence and two memory tasks in 724 men and women who were part of the Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study. Blood pressure and heart rate, as well as cortisol reactivity, were measured to a battery of three standard acute stress tasks. Poorer cognitive ability was associated with lower cardiovascular reactions to stress and lower cortisol area under the curve. Our results are consistent with recent findings implicating low physiological stress reactivity in a range of adverse behavioral and health outcomes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-400
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012