The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)


Mapping juvenile children’s salivary aldosterone and cortisone responses during athletic and non-athletic competition

TIMOTHY S. MCHALE1, WAI-CHI CHEE2, CAROLYN R. HODGES-SIMEON1, DAVID T. ZAVA3, GRAHAM ALBERT1, KA-CHUN CHAN4 and PETER B. GRAY5.

1Anthropology, Boston University, 2Department of Education Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University, 3ZRT Laboratory, 4Department of Psychology, University of Hong Kong, 5Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

April 16, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Aldosterone and cortisone are two understudied adrenal biomarkers associated with the regulation of physical and psychological stress. However, aldosterone and cortisone responses in juvenile children engaged in competition have not been described. We examined acute reactive responses of aldosterone and cortisone among Hong Kongese children, aged 8-11 years, during (1) a soccer match against unknown competitors (N = 84, high physical and high psychological stress condition), (2) soccer scrimmage against teammates (N = 81, high physical and low psychological stress condition), (3) a table tennis competition (N = 22, low physical and low psychological stress condition), and (4) a mixed-sex, team, math competition (N = 45, non-physical, high psychological stress condition). We hypothesized that aldosterone and cortisone levels would significantly vary with respect to the type of competition. As predicted, aldosterone levels significantly increased in boys during the soccer match and soccer scrimmage. Cortisone approached a significant increase for the soccer match (p = 0.055) and significantly decreased during the soccer scrimmage, likely indicating that competitors experienced high psychological stress during the soccer match and low psychological stress during the soccer scrimmage. Aldosterone and cortisone did not significantly change during table tennis contests. Counter to expectations, aldosterone and cortisone levels significantly decreased, rather than increased as predicted, consistent with a relaxed psychological state for math competitors. This finding also provides support that aldosterone is not only sensitive to physical stress (e.g., regulation of blood pressure), but may also vary with respect to decreases in psychological stress.

This work was supported by a Wenner-Gren dissertation fieldwork grant (#9239).