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Article

A Translational Paradigm to Study the Effects of Uncontrollable Stress in Humans

1
Department of Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, 55122 Mainz, Germany
2
Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
3
Sagol Department of Neurobiology, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
4
The Integrated Brain and Behavior Research Center (IBBR), University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel
5
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, 6525 HR Nijmegen, The Netherlands
6
Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research, Research Group Wessa, 55122 Mainz, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6010; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176010
Received: 28 June 2020 / Revised: 16 August 2020 / Accepted: 17 August 2020 / Published: 20 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Diverse Models of Stress: From Animal Model to Human and Back)
Theories on the aetiology of depression in humans are intimately linked to animal research on stressor controllability effects. However, explicit translations of established animal designs are lacking. In two consecutive studies, we developed a translational paradigm to study stressor controllability effects in humans. In the first study, we compared three groups of participants, one exposed to escapable stress, one yoked inescapable stress group, and a control group not exposed to stress. Although group differences indicated successful stress induction, the manipulation failed to differentiate groups according to controllability. In the second study, we employed an improved paradigm and contrasted only an escapable stress group to a yoked inescapable stress group. The final design successfully induced differential effects on self-reported perceived control, exhaustion, helplessness, and behavioural indices of adaptation to stress. The latter were examined in a new escape behaviour test which was modelled after the classic shuttle box animal paradigm. Contrary to the learned helplessness literature, exposure to uncontrollable stress led to more activity and exploration; however, these behaviours were ultimately not adaptive. We discuss the results and possible applications in light of the findings on learning and agency beliefs, inter-individual differences, and interventions aimed at improving resilience to stress-induced mental dysfunction. View Full-Text
Keywords: uncontrollable stress; learned helplessness; control; translational research; resilience uncontrollable stress; learned helplessness; control; translational research; resilience
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MDPI and ACS Style

Meine, L.E.; Schüler, K.; Richter-Levin, G.; Scholz, V.; Wessa, M. A Translational Paradigm to Study the Effects of Uncontrollable Stress in Humans. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 6010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176010

AMA Style

Meine LE, Schüler K, Richter-Levin G, Scholz V, Wessa M. A Translational Paradigm to Study the Effects of Uncontrollable Stress in Humans. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(17):6010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176010

Chicago/Turabian Style

Meine, Laura E., Katja Schüler, Gal Richter-Levin, Vanessa Scholz, and Michele Wessa. 2020. "A Translational Paradigm to Study the Effects of Uncontrollable Stress in Humans" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 17: 6010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176010

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