The experience of stress is an inherent aspect of daily-life. However, can we validly measure this in real life, and how and under what circumstances does it contribute to disease? We are looking for researchers that work on our exciting Stress in Action project.
Stress in Action project:
In this project, 65 multidisciplinary scientists from six Dutch Universities collaborate around the theme ‘stress in daily life’. Divided over three Research Themes and three Support Cores, the Stress in Action consortium will validate daily-life stress assessments, examine which contextual factors contribute to the experience of daily-life stress, and examine how daily-life stress leads to the development of both mental and cardiometabolic diseases. The project is funded through the Dutch Scientific Organization under the Gravitation program. More details can be found here: www.stressinaction.nl
What will you be doing?:
As a PhD-student your main mission is to provide the Stress in Action community with tools for the continuous (and reliable) recording of the cognitive stress responses in daily life.
You will start by reviewing the state of the art in active and passive sensing of cognitive aspects of the stress response. This review will focus on constructs underlying and relating to executive function based on both traditional tests as well as passive sensing methods. As an example, you may delve into the potential of passive sensing techniques, such as keystroke dynamics - observing how people type or interact with their smartphones - might provide insight into their cognitive state and potentially reflect varying levels of stress.
Following this foundational work, you will initiate a secondary objective providing the consortium with an up-to-date overview of the best commercially available tools for measuring behavioural stress responses, especially focusing on sleep trackers. The relationship between outcomes from these behavioural tools and the cognitive tools will be explored.
In parallel, you will also start validating the identified cognitive tools through lab and daily life studies. For instance, you could focus on comparing existing adaptations of traditional cognitive tests for smartphones, such as the Stroop test, which measures processes tapping on interference control and reaction time. By deploying such tests at different times, you will investigate how performance varies with stress levels and how passive and active sensing of the cognitive stress response varies over different tools.
You'll harness the potential of these cognitive tools to determine optimal moments for participant responses to experience sampling items or just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs).
By the end of the project, you will have contributed substantially to our understanding of the cognitive aspects of the stress response and provided valuable tools and methodologies for researchers in the field.