Stress is a major risk factor for the development of almost all psychiatric disorders. In addition to the acute stress response, an efficient recovery in the aftermath of stress is important for optimal resilience. Increased stress vulnerability across psychiatric disorders may therefore be related to altered trajectories during the recovery phase following stress. Such recovery trajectories can be quantified by changes in functional brain networks. This study therefore evaluated longitudinal functional network changes related to stress in healthy individuals (N = 80), individuals at risk for psychiatric disorders (healthy siblings of schizophrenia patients) (N = 39), and euthymic bipolar I disorder (BD) patients (N = 36). Network changes were evaluated before and at 20 and 90 min after onset of an experimental acute stress task (Trier Social Stress Test) or a control condition. Whole-brain functional networks were analyzed using eigenvector centrality as a proxy for network importance, centrality change over time was related to the acute stress response and recovery for each group. In healthy individuals, centrality of the dorsal attention network (DAN; p = 0.007) changed over time in relation to stress. More specifically, DAN centrality increased during the recovery phase after acute stress exposure (p = 0.020), while no DAN centrality change was observed during the initial stress response (p = 0.626). Such increasing DAN centrality during stress recovery was also found in healthy siblings (p = 0.016), but not in BD patients (p = 0.554). This study highlights that temporally complex and precise changes in network configuration are vital to understand the response to and recovery from stress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102721
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Acute stress
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Centrality
  • Dorsal attention network
  • Functional connectivity
  • Recovery

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