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Hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis and autonomic activity during stress in delinquent male adolescents and controls

Popma, A., Jansen, L., Vermeiren, R., Steiner, H., Raine, A., Van Goozen, Stephanie Helena Maria, van Engeland, H. and Doreleijers, Th. A. H. 2006. Hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis and autonomic activity during stress in delinquent male adolescents and controls. Psychoneuroendocrinology 31 (8) , pp. 948-957. 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2006.05.005

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Objective Patterns of low autonomic arousal have consistently been related to delinquency and disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) in children and adolescents. Findings on another stress regulating mechanism, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, have been inconsistent, which may partly be due to not considering specific stress reactivity measures. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between disruptive behavior in male adolescents and their HPA and autonomic reactivity to a standard public speaking task (PST). Method Responsivity to the PST of cortisol, heart rate (HR), skin conductance level (SCL) and self-reported negative feelings was measured, and compared between 12and14-year-old boys who attended a delinquency diversion program (DP), with and without DBD (DP+, n=22 and DP−, n=49, resectively), and matched normal controls (NC, n=30). DBD diagnoses were based on a structured psychiatric interview. Results The DP+ group, but not the DP− group, showed a significantly decreased cortisol and HR response during the PST as compared with the NC group. No significant effects were found for SCL. All subjects connoted the task negatively. Conclusions The results indicate that low cortisol and HR responsivity to stress may be a neurobiological marker for delinquent boys with DBD, but not for those without DBD. Directions for future research and clinical implications are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cortisol; Hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis; Heart rate; Arousal; Delinquency; Conduct disorder
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0306-4530
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:05

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