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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Nov;85:96-99. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.07.487. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Amygdala volume and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to social stress.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong; Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London SE5 8AF, UK.
2
School of Psychology and CLS, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AL, UK; Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
3
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W1W 6UW, UK.
5
School of Psychology and CLS, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AL, UK.
6
Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; Department of Psychology, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK. Electronic address: s.l.halligan@bath.ac.uk.

Abstract

The amygdala plays a central role in emotional processing and has an activating influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Structural changes in the amygdala have been associated with early adversity and, in principle, may contribute to the later emergence of emotional pathologies by influencing the way that the brain responds to stress provocation. The present study examined the relationship between amygdala volumes and cortisol secretion in response to a social stressor among young adults who were or were not exposed to maternal postnatal depression (PND) early in development (referred to as PND offspring and controls, respectively). Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) revealed that, on a sample-wide level, there was no evidence of a relationship between total amygdala volume, or the volume of the right or left hemisphere amygdala taken separately, and cortisol reactivity. Unexpectedly, for PND offspring, larger right hemisphere amygdala volume was associated with lower cortisol reactivity in response to stress, an effect that was not apparent in control offspring. We conclude that the relationship between amygdala volumes and stress reactivity may not be as clear as previous models suggested.

KEYWORDS:

Amygdala; Cortisol; Depression; Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; Stress sensitivity

PMID:
28843903
PMCID:
PMC5632999
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.07.487
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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