Delta-beta cross-frequency coupling as an index of stress regulation during social-evaluative threat

Eefje S. Poppelaars*, Johannes Klackl, Belinda Pletzer, Eva Jonas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Coupling between delta (1‒4 Hz) and beta (14‒30 Hz) oscillations is posited to reflect subcortico-cortical communication and stress regulation. To validate delta-beta coupling (DBC) as an index of neural stress regulation, we investigated whether DBC changes during stress and whether these changes are associated with established stress responses.

We induced stress using a social-evaluative threat (impromptu speech) task and measured frontal and parietal delta-beta amplitude-amplitude correlation (AAC) and phase-amplitude coupling (PAC), as well as cardiovascular, affective, and endocrine stress responses.

Results showed no significant changes in either AAC or PAC in response to stress and no correlations with stress responses. However, baseline AAC tended to be related to more adaptive endocrine stress responses.

Our results suggest that delta-beta AAC or PAC are not valid neural indices of stress regulation itself, but rather traits that relate to differences in neuroendocrine stress responses.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108043
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychology
Early online date6 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 501 Psychology


  • Delta-beta
  • Cross-frequency
  • Coupling
  • Anxiety
  • Cortisol
  • Heart rate variability

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