Publication Date

Spring 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland


Cortisol, GNGT, inhibition, stress, Trier Social Stress Test

Subject Areas



Stress has been implicated by recent research to significantly contribute towards many cognitive and physiological deficiencies. One of the most popular topics of study is the effect of stress on inhibition, the all-or-none decision about an action or inaction. However, only recently have scientists begun investigating neuroendocrine molecules that link stress and inhibitory processing. Participants included San José State University undergraduates (27 male, 63 female, 1 unstated) who were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test, an established stress task, and who were assessed before and after stress exposure for cortisol levels. Participants were also given a pre- and post-test using a cued Go/No-Go Task (GNGT) with 75% cue validity. Performance on the task can be used to measure how well participants can inhibit a previously prepared (i.e., "prepotent") response. Participants were assigned to either the control group (n=47) or the stress (experimental) group (n=44). The stress-exposure group was later divided according to cortisol reactivity as being either stress responders (n = 28) or stress nonresponders (n = 16). It was hypothesized that exposure to a social stressor would impair the stress responder group's performance on the cued GNGT, whereas the stress non-responders and the control group would have no impairments on the cued GNGT. Thus evidence for a differential impairment in the ability to inhibit responses was not found in the stress condition nor the control condition.