Quantitative electroencephalographic correlates of steroid administration in man

O. M. Wolkowitz, R. Coppola, A. Breier, A. R. Doran, D. R. Rubinow, W. H. Berrettini, M. A. King, D. Pickar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevated levels of circulating corticosteroids are frequently associated with behavioural alternations in man, although the mechanisms by which corticosteroids may affect behaviour are poorly understood. To evaluate possible effects of exogenous corticosteroids on brain electrophysiological functioning and the relationship of such effects of behavioural and biochemical changes, we administered prednisone (80 mg p.o. daily for 5 days) in a double-blind manner to 11 medically healthy volunteers. Quantitative electroencephalogram analysis was performed following 4 days of prednisone administration and during the preceding and ensuing placebo administration periods. Central theta wave brain electrical activity significantly increased following prednisone administration and returned to baseline following prednisone withdrawal. This effect was directly correlated with prednisone induced increases in subjective sadness ratings and with decreases in self-rated energy and well-being. Prednisone-induced reductions in peak alpha wave activity were also directly correlated with increases in subjective sadness and Symptom Checklist-90 ratings and with decreases in self-rated 'hypomanic' symptoms. Further prednisone induced increases in theta activity were significantly correlated with prednisone-induced decreases in CSF levels of somatostatin-like immunoreactivity, and prednisone-induced decreases in peak alpha activity wee significantly correlated with decreases in CSF levels of norepinephrine and with relative increases (or lesser decreases) in CSF levels of β-endorphin and β-lipotropic hormone. This preliminary report of the concomitant development of prednisone-induced changes in brain electrical activity, neurochemistry and behavior highlights areas for future exploration in the study of corticosteroid effects on behavior in man.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-230
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • β-endorphin
  • Behavior
  • EEG
  • Mood
  • Norepinephrine
  • Prednisone
  • Quantitative electroencephalography
  • Somatostatin
  • Steroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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