In our competitive society performing well is one of the most essential factors in order to be successful for example during an oral exam or a sport competition. However performing well can be critical, particularly in stressful situations. One physiological reaction to stress is an increase in cortisol (e.g., Buchanan, al'Absi, & Lovallo, 1999). So far, cortisol has mainly been used as a passive marker, indicating how objectively stressed athletes are, for example during their first day of a competition (e.g., Filaire, Alix, Ferrand, & Verger, 2009). The first experimentally controlled study showing a link between cortisol and sports performance focused on a particular performance parameter (i.e., the second tennis serve) and found a negative correlation between cortisol and service performance was found (Lautenbach, Laborde, Achtzehn, & Raab, 2014), providing first preliminary evidence for a cortisol-performance relationship. A possible underlying mechanisms explaining the cortisol-performance relationship can be found by turning to executive functions (e.g., selective attetion; Diamond, 2012). It is generally accepted that cortisol has an impact on cognitive functions (e.g., Suay & Salvador, 2012) because it passes the blood-brain barrier and glucocorticoid receptors are to be found with an augmented appearance particularly in the prefrontal cortical structures (Putman & Berling, 2011), responsible for higher cognitive functions and thus, sensitive to cortisol changes. Within this line of reserach, I try to answer the question of how cortisol can influence performance.
Hormonal markers (i.e., cortisol)
Heart rate variability (HRV)
Stress induction protocoles (e.g., psycho-social: TSST, TSST-G; physical: cold pressor task)