Thriving in the Face of Adversity: Psychophysiological Markers of Resilience and Their Association with Attachment

Project posted in research topic: 
Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen
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Participants 1

Resilience refers to the ability to cope with and adapt remarkably well to traumatic events. One important aspect of resilience is psychophysiological recovery from stress. Thus, investigating psychophysiological markers of adaptive stress responses and potential resilience-promoting factors may greatly contribute to our understanding of resilience. However, focal research on this issue is limited. A number of psychophysiological and psychological characteristics have recently been linked to resilience, notably cardiac vagal tone, attachment, early parental loss, and reactivity and subsequent recovery of the stress-regulatory Sympatho-Adrenal-Medullary and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axes. The current project will extensively address the interplay between psychophysiological (e.g., vagal tone, heart rate, alpha-amylase, cortisol) and psychological (e.g., attachment) markers of resilience. In this context, resilience is defined as a prompt recovery from stress. Study 1 investigates how attachment and resilience are linked within a sample of healthy young adults. Study 2 explores the links between cardiac vagal tone, attachment, and resilience in insecurely attached individuals from a single-parent family (i.e., with a history of early parental loss), securely attached individuals from a single-parent family, and controls from ?intact? families. Study 3 draws on subsamples of Study 2 to look at the neural substrates of resilience using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). In Study 4, potential stress-buffering effects of oxytocin are investigated among groups of secure and insecure attached individuals from single-parent families and controls. This way, we can test whether heightened levels of oxytocin, a neuropeptide strongly implicated in attachment, may promote resilience. Identifying psychophysiological and psychological markers of resilience is crucial in gaining knowledge about what makes people thrive in the face of adversity and will provide crucial insights for therapeutic strategies aimed at helping victims cope with traumatic stress.

Dr. T. Smeets
Verbonden aan
Dr. T. Smeets
01/01/2009 tot 20/12/2012

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