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Quantitativ Correlations Between Alteration of Serological Stress Factors and Psychological Test-Scores.

W. Temmel 1,2, M. Weger 1, S. Porta1,2, E. Frise 4, G. Fleck 4,

2 Institute of Applied Stress Research*, Bad Radkersburg
1 Institute of General and Experimental Pathology, University of Graz
4 Psychological Service of the Austrian Armed Forces, Am Fasangarten 2, 1130 Vienna, Austria

The interaction of catecholamines with changes in blood gases, electrolyte and carbohydrate metabolism in stress is qualitatively accepted but quantitatively unclear and most probably situation dependent. Therefore, mean values and correlative changes of such selected stress parameters in different stress types of human probands were investigated to determine quantitative relationships between parameters characterizing stress intensity and stress duration. Following the concept of additive catecholamine secretion in a so called ² post stress provocation test ², we superimposed a psychological reaction test (PRT) upon 3 days of extensive combat training. The reaction to such a standardized test before and after combat training should therefore elucidate the influence of combat training induced fatigue upon test performance. By comparing performance during the same test either before or after combat training, the influence upon participants, and therefore the intensity of combat training stress could be evaluated. Quantitative linear correlations should show eventual proportionalities between psychological score and serological alterations.

Materials and Methods

3 days of uninterrupted combat training of 16 male officer trainees of the Theresianische Militärakademie had to undergo a psychologically demanding test of approximately 45 minutes afterwards.Blood samples were drawn immediately before and after the psychological test series consisting of a signal detection test, followed by a visual discrimination test and a short memory test, altogether lasting 45 minutes. For internal individual standardization, the reaction of the same probands to the same tests was checked one week earlier, but without previous exercise.For statistical analyses the raw scores had been used, i. e., for each correct reaction one point was given (positive test score), and for each wrong reaction also one point was given (negative test score). The following serum parameters were measured :Free and total epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, ionized magnesium, total serum magnesium, whereby the bound magnesium concentration was calculated by subtraction of the free magnesium subfraction from total serum magnesium levels; GT, GPT, GOT, urea ; creatinine, lactate dehydrogenase, sodium, potassium, ionized and total calcium, chloride, amylase serum cortisol, WBC and differential blood count as well as mitogen stimulation and blood gases ( pCO2, HCO3, pH, BE, pO2 and O2sat. ).

By the way of internal standardization, the reaction of the same probands to the same tests was checked without previous exercise one week earlier.

Results and Discussion

From the 67 measured and calculated serum and plasma parameters, we decided to show those 15 that did show significant differences of their means before and after psychological testing.

Alterations of serum levels during the PRT without previous combat training correlated in four cases with the test score : As was the case with absolute values ,also here the most frequently seen significancies were those of magnesium parameters. The obvious difference between the behaviour of absolute and delta values is, that delta values never correlate with negative test scores.

The frequency of correlations of positive and negative PRT scores and serum delta values after previous combat training increased about sixfold. Similiar to the situation with absolute values many blood gas - PRT score correlations begin to evolve ; magnesium correlations vanish and a typical parameter for delta value correlations, catecholamines ( which made their appearance in the delta correlations without combat ) already begin to figure more prominently.

Evidently, we replaced the usual physical exertion of the post stress provocation test by a psychical reaction test.

If a larger number of correlations really could be taken as an increase of sensitivity towards superimposed stress, then both the psychological score and serological reactions to the post- stress provocation test may be a valid tool for the measuring of the remaining stress compatibility of a person who underwent previous fatigue.

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