Functional Connectivity and Perceived Stress In Men and Women
A recent article published by Archer et al (2017) observed the connectivity between brain regions and perceived stress in men and women. Twenty-two women and twenty-four men completed questionnaires to indicate how stressed they have felt over the last month. They then completed a working-memory task and an inhibition task whilst undergoing functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI). Findings indicate that in women higher levels of stress were related to increased functional connectivity within the limbic region, (i.e. middle cingulate, anterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus) during tasks and at rest. These areas of the brain are heavily involved with emotion and affective processing. Similarly, stress was related to greater functional connectivity activations in the limbic regions during tasks in male participants, but was not associated with any changes in neural processing at rest. The findings support past research suggesting women employ emotion focused coping skills when stressed and challenges existing ideas that men are more reward focused when stressed.
Link to article : Archer, J. A., Lee, A., Qiu, A., & Chen, S. H. A. (2017). Functional connectivity of resting-state, working memory and inhibition networks in perceived stress. Neurobiology of Stress.
The above figure adapted from Archer et al (2017) illustrates the connectivity map for a) women, b) men and their resting-state and task dependent functional connectivity. Red = positive correlation and Blue = negative correlation. Yellow numbers indicate slice in MNI space. Voxel: p < 0.001, cluster: p < 0.05FWE. ACC = anterior cingulate cortex.