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Assessment of stress and cognition among adolescent males and females

Karthika Priyadharshini Udayakumar, Pavithra Sureshkumar, Tamil Selvan Kuppusamy.


Background: The psychophysiological changes that people experience due to long-term cognitive activity is stress. Compared to adults, adolescents are more prone to stress due to change in the level of stress hormones. Stress has an impact on cognitive parameters. Stress and cognition can be modulated by the sex steroids. Hence, this study was done to know the gender difference in perceived stress and its effect on cognition among adolescents.

Aims and Objectives: The aim of the study was to record and compare stress and cognition among male and female volunteers.

Materials and Methods: After getting Institutional Ethical Committee clearance, informed written consent was obtained from all the participants. 30 male and 30 female volunteers were selected by simple random sampling method after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. Stress was recorded using perceived stress scale, cognitive tests such as digit symbol substitution test (DSST), letter digit substitution test (LDST), mini-mental status examination (MMSE), Wechsler memory scale (WMS) revised-spatial addition subtest, design subtest, simple visual reaction time (SRT), choice visual reaction time (CRT), and critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) were recorded among male and female volunteers in the Department of Physiology, Sri Venkateshwaraa Medical College Hospital and Research center, Ariyur, Pondicherry.

Results: Perceived stress scale is significantly decreased in females (P = 0.0046). Cognitive parameters such as LDST (P < 0.0001), WMS design (P = 0.0016), and MMSE (P = 0.0003) significantly increased among the females with less stress but DSST (P < 0.0001) significantly increased among the males. SRT, CRT, CFFF, and WMS spatial did not show any significant difference between both the genders.

Conclusion: Thus, from this study, we conclude that stress is significantly decreased among females than males which might be due to the reason that all the recordings in the female were recorded during the menstrual phase where all the female sex hormones are in the basal level. Certain cognitive parameters were significantly increased in females with less stress and some in males with more stress; thus, stress has a varied effect on cognition in males and females.

Key words: Adolescents; Critical Flicker Fusion Frequency; Cognition; Stress; Visual Reaction Time

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