Mental health problems, such as depression, are increasingly common among workers. Job-related stresses, including psychological demands and a lack of discretion in controlling one’s own work environment, are important causal factors. However, the mechanisms through which job-related stress may affect brain function remain unknown. We sought to identify the relationship between job-related stress and frontotemporal cortex activation using near-infrared spectroscopy. Seventy-nine (45 females, 34 males) Japanese employees, aged 26–51 years, were recruited from respondents to the Japanese Study of Stratification, Health, Income, and Neighborhood survey. Job-related stress was measured using the Japanese version of Job Content Questionnaire, which can index “job demand” and “job control”. We found a significant correlation between higher “job demand” and smaller oxygenated hemoglobin [oxy-Hb] changes in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in female (r = −.54 to −.44). Significant correlations between higher “job control” and greater [oxy-Hb] changes in the right temporal cortex were observed among male, and in the combined sample (r = .46–.64). This initial cross-sectional observation suggests that elevated job-related stress is related to decrease frontotemporal cortex activation among workers. Integrating social epidemiology and neuroscience may be a powerful strategy for understanding how individuals’ brain functions may mediate between the job-related stress or psychosocial work characteristics and public mental health.
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