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Cortisol and The Brain

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I will post summaries to studies that directly address the effects of cortisol on the brain. I have direct access to the full report(s). I can get them to you for your own personal use depending on the terms of the copywright. Please let me know if you want a copy by messenger, e-mail, or post if you want a full copy of the report. I will be adding more studies.


The first study is

The effects of chronic administration of hydrocortisone on cognitive function in normal male volunteers.


Young AH, Sahakian BJ, Robbins TW, Cowen PJ.


Department of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Royal Victoria Informary, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. A.H.Young@ncl.ac.uk


RATIONALE: Corticosteroids are elevated in certain neuropsychiatric disorders and this may contribute to the neuropsychological impairments reported in these disorders. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of hydrocortisone on learning, memory and executive function. METHODS: Hydrocortisone 20 mg was administered twice daily for 10 days to normal male volunteers in a randomized, placebo control, crossover, within-subject design. Learning, memory and executive function were measured using selected subtests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. RESULTS: Hydrocortisone caused impairments of visuo-spatial memory. These included increased within search errors and impaired use of strategies on the spatial working memory subtest. In addition, administration of hydrocortisone was associated with more errors in the paired associate learning subtest, although no effect was found on the Tower of London. Hydrocortisone speeded response latencies in certain tests (pattern and spatial recognition memory). CONCLUSION: These results indicate that chronic administration of hydrocortisone leads to deficits in certain tests of cognitive function sensitive to frontal lobe dysfunction and may contribute to the cognitive impairment reported in certain neuropsychiatric disorders.


Publication Types:

Clinical Trial

Randomized Controlled Trial


PMID: 10494574 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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Thanks, Kristy!

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The second study is:


Bruce S. McEwen

Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021; e-mail: mcewen@rockvax.rockefeller.edu


KEY WORDS: glucocorticoids, NMDA receptors, dendrites, neurogenesis, memory, aging


The hippocampus is a target of stress hormones, and it is an especially plastic and vulnerable region of the brain. It also responds to gonadal, thyroid, and adrenal hormones, which modulate changes in synapse formation and dendritic structure and regulate dentate gyrus volume during development and in adult life. Two forms of structural plasticity are affected by stress: Repeated stress causes atrophy of dendrites in the CA3 region, and both acute and chronic stress suppresses neurogenesis of dentate gyrus granule neurons. Besides glucocorticoids, excitatory amino acids and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are involved in these two forms of plasticity as well as in neuronal death that is caused in pyramidal neurons by seizures and by ischemia. The two forms of hippocampal structural plasticity are relevant to the human hippocampus, which undergoes a selective atrophy in a number of disorders, accompanied by deficits in declarative, episodic, spatial, and contextual memory performance. It is important, from a therapeutic standpoint, to distinguish between a permanent loss of cells and a reversible atrophy.



I am trying to find articles pertaining to humans...but if you

want RAT studies...email me privately tee hee! You wouldn't

believe the stuff I have run into!


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Want to participate in a study at the NIH?



Hippocampal Complex Volume and Memory Dysfunction in Cushing's Syndrome


This study is currently recruiting patients.


Sponsored by

National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)

University of Michigan

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I'll post some links to interesting articles here:


Brain hormone may hold key to memory loss, impaired cognition



Stress hormone-inhibitor drug can restore impaired

memory caused by brain damage



Study links hormone, memory loss



Study finds high level of stress hormone impairs memory


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