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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Mar;1098:122-44. Epub 2007 Mar 1.

Salivary alpha-amylase in biobehavioral research: recent developments and applications.

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Behavioral Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


In the history of science, technical advances often precede periods of rapid accumulation of knowledge. Within the past three decades, discoveries that enabled the noninvasive measurement of the psychobiology of stress (in saliva) have added new dimensions to the study of health and human development. This widespread enthusiasm has led to somewhat of a renaissance in behavioral science. At the cutting edge, the focus is on testing innovative theoretical models of individual differences in behavior as a function of multilevel biosocial processes in the context of everyday life. Several new studies have generated renewed interest in salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) as a surrogate marker of the autonomic/sympathetic nervous system component of the psychobiology of stress. This article reviews sAA's properties and functions; presents illustrative findings relating sAA to stress and the physiology of stress, behavior, cognitive function, and health; and provides practical information regarding specimen collection and assay. The overarching intent is to accelerate the learning curve such that investigators avoid potential pitfalls associated with integrating this unique salivary analyte into the next generation of biobehavioral research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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