Behavioural & Cognitive Sciences

Chronic stress and body perception in schoolteachers

We aim to investigate core mechanisms of a dysregulated exchange in the brain-body-system

Interoception and chronic stress

Interoception is defined as the perception of physical sensations (i.g. physical symptoms) and plays an important role for health, stress and disease. Accurate interocetion is associated with factors that contribute to mental health, such as emotion regulation or emotional experience. Disturbed interoception on the other hand, can be overserved in mental disorders, which are associated with physical symptoms, such as panic disorder or somatoform disorders. Chronic stress represents a major risk factor for the development of those disorders, which is why interoception and stress are seen as parts of a shared higher-level-exchange-system between the brain and the body: While interoception implies the perception of signals on the afferent (upward) path of the brain-body axis, stress represents a prominent example for descending (downward) signals. Thus, both pathways represent an interplay between the brain and the body, while dysregulation in signal transmission on either of these pathways, as well as their interaction with each other, may underlie the generation of physical symptoms. The overall picture of how this dysregulation may be portraited and how it may contribute to the generation of physical symptoms, is the main research question of this study.

            The research project

The research project comprises a multi-method approach. That means the inclusion of interdisciplinary methods like endocrinological analyses (i.e. saliva or hair probes) as well as physiological measures (e.g.  Electroencephalography), accompanied by self-report questionnaires.

            Participation in the study

We intend to investigate schoolteachers, who are either stressed or not stressed. It is well established that the teaching profession represents a highly stressful occupation due to enduring psychosocial demands at the workplace. As a consequence, particularly highly and chronically stressed schoolteachers may show a dysregulation in the reactivity of the so-called physiological stress system. Firstly, the study includes an online questionnaire (see link down below), where all school teachers, who are actively working in the teaching profession and speak fluent German, may participate. After participating in the online questionnaire, we randomly select persons for participation in a follow-up study in the laboratory at the University of Luxembourg at Campus Belval.

Who is involved in this project?

UL members

  • Dr. Claus Vögele (Prof.)
  • Dr. André Schulz (Ass.-Prof.)
  • Greta Hansen (Doctoral Researcher)

External Partners

Dr. Silja Bellingrath (Prof., University Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

Link to the survey

Additional information

People related to this project