The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a 2-hour laboratory challenge on heart rate, blood pressure, catecholamines, and cortisol; and investigate the contribution of the physical act of speaking on both neuroendocrine and cardiovascular measures. Using a within-subjects design, 14 subjects were tested individually during two separate laboratory sessions. During one session, subjects engaged in two cognitively demanding tasks for 2 hours. During the other session, subjects executed the verbal demands of the tasks for 2 hours, but cognitive demands were absent. During both sessions, blood pressure and heart rate were measured and arterialized blood samples were obtained for the measurement of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. Subjects demonstrated significantly greater increases in systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, epinephrine, and cortisol during the cognitively challenging session than during the control session. It is concluded that sustained elevations in cardiovascular and neuroendocrine measures can be achieved in the laboratory, and that the effects of such tasks cannot be attributed solely to the physical demands of speaking. Implications for the measurement of circulating catecholamines and cortisol during laboratory studies are discussed.
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