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Published November 1, 2010 | public
Journal Article

Salivary α-amylase levels as a biomarker of experienced fear


We recently reported data related to emotions collected in conjunction with a museum exhibit on emotion (Goose Bumps! - The Science of Fear).1 In this addendum, we present additional data collected as part of that study. We collected two commonly measured indices of emotional arousal, salivary cortisol and α-amylase, before and after participants had gone through a realistic fear challenge course as part of the exhibit. We found that alpha-amylase, but not cortisol, showed a highly specific increase only for those participants who endorsed both emotional arousal and negative valence. By contrast, the fear-inducing course resulted in high arousal but positive valence in some participants; in these, no increased α-amylase was measured. We conclude that salivary α-amylase is a promising biomarker for fearful experiences, and suggest that it is important to pay attention to positively valenced arousal that may be induced by fearful stimuli in a laboratory setting.

Additional Information

© 2010 Landes Bioscience. Received 06 Jun 2010, Accepted 06 Jun 2010, Published online: 01 Nov 2010.

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