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Walter-Benjamin-Projekt: Stressimaging (DFG)

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Walter-Benjamin-Project: Stressimaging

Identification of normative neural stress response patterns: applying neuroimaging statistics to psychobiological data.

This project focuses on neural stress processing in humans. Using the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-compatible psychosocial stress paradigm ScanSTRESS, the neural response patterns of limbic structures and their association with affective, endocrine, and physiological stress reactions are investigated in more detail. The analysis of various ScanSTRESS data sets focuses on the salience, central executive, and default mode networks (SN, CEN, DMN). Based on this triple network of neural stress processing and studies that used psychosocial stressors such as ScanSTRESS, the hypothesis derived that psychosocial stress in particular activates only two of these three stress networks. The first aim of the project is therefore to comprehensively test this hypothesis in the existing literature on psychosocial stress processing in the brain and to confirm, using different ScanSTRESS datasets, that structures of the SN and DMN, but to a lesser extent those of the CEN, are involved in neural processing of psychosocial stress.  
In addition to such task-based fMRI acquisitions, scans in the complete resting state (RS) will also be elaborated, as they allow statements to be made about the functional connectivity (FC) of individual structures/networks. Specifically, pre-post RS measurements, i.e., before and after stress exposure, are examined regarding changes in FC. The so-called sandwich estimator will be used to determine FC changes in the stress-relevant networks, considering other predictors such as sex and stress-induced cortisol increases.  
Finally, the overarching aim of the project is to derive and validate normative stress response patterns (normative modelling). Such normative patterns, derived from healthy subjects, may facilitate detecting and quantifying deviations in future (pre-)clinical samples exposed to repeated or chronic stress. 

Team: Gina-Isabelle Henze, Renée Laura Lipka 
Head: Gina-Isabelle Henze 

Funding: DFG HE 9212/1-1 

contactGina-Isabelle Henze