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Dev Psychobiol. 2015 Sep;57(6):643-53. doi: 10.1002/dev.21337. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

A dual-axis approach to understanding neuroendocrine development.

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Human Development Family Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011.
Human Development Family Studies, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011.
Brown University / Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, 02903.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53715.
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, 3071.
Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616.


This introduction sets out to present a series of paper about a novel perspective regarding stress and sex hormones, or what the authors within this special issue term "coupling" of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and--gonadal axes. This view postulates that these axes do not necessarily operate in opposition, but can operate together as evidenced empirically as a positive within-person association between stress hormones like cortisol or sex hormones like testosterone. A wealth of papers within the special issue demonstrate positive coupling across acute, diurnal, basal, and longitudinal timeframes and across several different types of contexts. Reviews were meant to challenge whether this was physiologically plausible. Consistently, sophisticated statistical models were utilized in order to show a template for how to model positive coupling and to ensure that coupling was a within-person phenomenon. We cautiously considered positive coupling until the consistency of observing coupling was robust enough for us to consider challenging the prevailing oppositional view of these axes. We do so to acknowledge that there are contexts, moments and stages in which the function of these axes should work together: for example when contexts are both stressful and challenging or at developmental stages (like adolescence) in which the youth must grow up despite the storm and stress of youth. We hope that by putting forward a functional dual-axis approach, the field will be able to consider when and how these axes work together.


HPA-axis; HPG-axis; adolescence; cortisol; coupling; dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA); life history theory; testosterone

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