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Basal activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and cognitive function in anorexia nervosa

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Allan Young


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Anorexia nervosa is associated with abnormalities in neuroendocrine function including sustained hypercortisolism, which has been shown elsewhere to be associated with impairment of function in learning, memory and attention. Cognitive impairment has also been observed in anorexia nervosa. These effects may be mediated in part through cortisol effects on the hippocampus, which is dense with glucocorticoid receptors. We investigated the association between cortisol levels and cognitive function in anorexia nervosa by measuring both 24-hour urinary cortisol counts and performance on tasks of learning, memory and attention in patients suffering from the disorder Cortisol secretion was shown to be significantly higher in the patient group than in a matched control group and patients were also shown to be impaired in memory and attention. However, no correlations were found between the cognitive deficits and cortisol measures. It is suggested that more sensitive profiling of cortisol levels throughout the circadian cycle may be useful in future studies of cognitive function in anorexia nervosa.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Seed JA, Dixon RA, McCluskey SE, Young AH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience

Year: 2000

Volume: 250

Issue: 1

Pages: 11-15

ISSN (print): 0940-1334

ISSN (electronic): 1433-8491

Publisher: Springer Medizin


DOI: 10.1007/PL00007533


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