Addiction Research


Relationship between Mental Health Stress Levels and Cognitive Function

Kazue Sawami, Mitsuo Kimura, Himeyo Nakagawa, Tetsurou Kitamura and Chizuko Suishu

Introduction: As to addiction, it is evident that high palatability (addictive) substances, such as drinking alcohol or smoking, all occur due to emptiness, psychologically the same mechanism, with emotional and mental factors playing a big role. Therefore, we have, focused on mental soundness, and researched the relationships between mental health level/stress and cognition/judgement. Furthermore, through a brain training game employing rhythmical exercises and touching, we have clarified whether this will mitigate mental stress and affect cognitive functions, too.

Methods: Subject: We recruited 100 people living in the area by public information in Kashihara City. It was a three month intervention, comparing the results with controls and interventions. The evaluation scale is as follows. 

Measurement of cognitive function: The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-test). Measurement of emotional states: Japanese version General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ-12). 

Measurement of negative stress: Measuring salivary α-amylase concentration.

Results of the MoCA test and saliva α-amylase: In the t-test after the intervention (implementation), positive increases in areas such as recalling animal names (reproducing ability), repetition tests (memory), digit span tasks both sequential and reverse, sustained attention, calculation (concentration, attention and memory) have been statistically significantly recognized (p/t, 5% level). As for saliva amylase that reflects mental stress in comfort / discomfort, the measured value before the intervention was 46.3 KU/L; that after the control period was 45.5 KU/L, with no major changes seen. After the intervention, on the other hand, the value was lowered to 33.4 KU/L with the statistically significant decrease of mental stress recognized (p/t, 1% level).

Results of the GHQ-12: There were correlation between GHQ score and Alternating Trail Making, Attention, Abstraction, Delayed recall, Orientation, and total score, while cognitive function was high when mentality state was also healthiness.

Conclusion: The cognitive training employing rhythmical exercises and touching not only improved cognitive functions but also reduced stress. With the correlation between amylase in saliva that reflects stress and cognitive functions, and that between GHQ-12 that indicates mental health level and cognitive abilities made clear, it is obvious that the reduction of stress is imperative for sound thought or judgement.