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Int Rev Neurobiol. 2010;93:153-75. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7742(10)93007-9.

The cortisol awakening response in context.

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Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, London W1B2UW, UK.


The cortisol awakening response (CAR) is a crucial point of reference within the healthy cortisol circadian rhythm, with cortisol secretion typically peaking between 30 and 45 min post awakening. This chapter reviews the history of investigation into the CAR and highlights evidence that its regulation is relatively distinct from cortisol secretion across the rest of the day. It is initiated by awakening, under the influence of the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, and "fine tuned" by a direct neural input to the adrenal cortex by the sympathetic nervous system. This chapter also examples the CAR in relation to other awakening-induced processes, such as restoration of consciousness, attainment of full alertness, changes in other hormones, changes in the balance of the immune system, and mobilization of the motor system, and speculates that there is a role for the CAR in these processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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