The effect of acute auditory stress on gastric motor responses to a meal in healthy volunteers


  • Competing interests: The authors have no competing interests.


Background and Aim

Stress is believed to play a role in the pathogenesis of functional gastrointestinal disorders. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of acute auditory stress on gastric motor responses to a meal in healthy subjects.


A total of eight healthy volunteers (seven men and one woman; median age, 33.4 years [30–35 years]) who had no recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms participated in the prospective, randomized, crossover study. Gastric half-emptying time and meal-induced proximal gastric accommodation were measured using gastric scintigraphy under the auditory stress and control conditions in a randomized crossover design.


The gastric half-emptying time under the stress condition was significantly longer than that under the control condition (130.8 ± 16.6 vs 105.0 ± 13.1 min; P = 0.005 by paired t-test). Under the stress and control conditions, the proximal gastric volume significantly increased after a meal (P < 0.001 by repeated measures analysis of variance). The degree of the postprandial increase in proximal gastric volume did not significantly differ between both conditions (P = 0.598 by tests of between-subjects effects using repeated measures analysis of variance). The severity scores of postprandial epigastric discomfort and fullness were significantly higher under the stress condition than under the control condition (P = 0.001 and P = 0.039, respectively, by paired t-test).


Acute auditory stress delays gastric emptying and increases the severity of postprandial symptoms in the healthy subjects, suggesting the relevance of psychological stress to the pathophysiological mechanism of functional dyspepsia.