Salivy α-amylase in biobehavioral research: Recent developments and applications

Douglas A. Granger, Katie T. Kivlighan, Mona El-Sheikh, Elana B. Gordis, Laura R. Stroud

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

457 Scopus citations


In the history of science, technical advances often precede periods of rapid accumulation of knowledge. Within the past three decades, discoveries that enabled the noninvasive measurement of the psychobiology of stress (in saliva) have added new dimensions to the study of health and human development. This widespread enthusiasm has led to somewhat of a renaissance in behavioral science. At the cutting edge, the focus is on testing innovative theoretical models of individual differences in behavior as a function of multilevel biosocial processes in the context of everyday life. Several new studies have generated renewed interest in salivary α-amylase (sAA) as a surrogate marker of the autonomic/ sympathetic nervous system component of the psychobiology of stress. This article reviews sAA's properties and functions; presents illustrative findings relating sAA to stress and the physiology of stress, behavior, cognitive function, and health; and provides practical information regarding specimen collection and assay. The overarching intent is to accelerate the learning curve such that investigators avoid potential pitfalls associated with integrating this unique salivary analyte into the next generation of biobehavioral research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOral-based Diagnostics
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)157331661X, 9781573316613
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • Behavior problems
  • Cognition
  • Health
  • Psychobiology of stress
  • Salivary alpha-amylase
  • Social relationships
  • Sympathetic nervous system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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