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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Oct;38(10):2319-26. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 Jul 5.

Stress-induced enhancement of response inhibition depends on mineralocorticoid receptor activation.

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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Cognitive Psychology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Universitaetsstrasse 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany. Electronic address:


Stress is a well-known modulator of cognitive functions. These effects are, at least in part, mediated by glucocorticoid stress hormones which act via two receptor types in the brain, glucocorticoid receptors (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptors (MR). Here, we examined whether stress affects inhibitory control processes and, if so, whether these effects are mediated by the MR. To this end, healthy participants received 300mg of the MR antagonist spironolactone or a placebo and underwent a stressor (socially evaluated cold pressor test) or a non-stressful control task 90min later. Shortly after the stressor, participants performed a stop-signal task that required them to rapidly suppress a well-established response whenever a tone was presented. Results revealed that stress enhanced response inhibition in the stop-signal task and that this enhancement was abolished by spironolactone. Our results show that stress may facilitate inhibitory control and that these effects depend on MR functioning.


Cognition; Glucocorticoids; Mineralocorticoid receptor; Response inhibition; Stress

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