Steroid abnormalities and the developing brain: Declarative memory for emotionally arousing and neutral material in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Françoise S. Maheu, Deborah P. Merke, Elizabeth A. Schroth, Margaret F. Keil, Julie Hardin, Kaitlin Poeth, Daniel S. Pine, Monique Ernst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Steroid hormones modulate memory in animals and human adults. Little is known on the developmental effects of these hormones on the neural networks underlying memory. Using Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) as a naturalistic model of early steroid abnormalities, this study examines the consequences of CAH on memory and its neural correlates for emotionally arousing and neutral material in children. Seventeen patients with CAH and 17 age- and sex-matched healthy children (ages 12-14 years) completed the study. Subjects were presented positive, negative and neutral pictures. Memory recall occurred about 30 min after viewing the pictures. Children with CAH showed memory deficits for negative pictures compared to healthy children (p<0.01). There were no group differences on memory performance for either positive or neutral pictures (p>0.1). In patients, 24 h urinary-free cortisol levels (reflecting glucocorticoid replacement therapy) and testosterone levels were not associated with memory performance. These findings suggest that early steroid imbalances affect memory for negative material in children with CAH. Such memory impairments may result from abnormal brain organization and function following hormonal dysfunction during critical periods of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Keywords

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Declarative memory
  • Development
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Steroid hormones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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