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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Dec;86:110-121. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.013. Epub 2017 Sep 15.

Dehydroepiandrosterone impacts working memory by shaping cortico-hippocampal structural covariance during development.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A1A1, Canada; Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada; Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada. Electronic address: tuong.v.nguyen@mcgill.ca.
2
Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, College of Medicine, Burlington, VT, 05405, USA.
4
Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA; Brain Development Cooperative Group, United States.
5
Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, College of Medicine, Burlington, VT, 05405, USA; Brain Development Cooperative Group, United States.
6
McConnell Brain imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, Canada.
7
Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 53211, USA.
8
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A1A1, Canada; Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, H4B 1R6, Canada; CHU Sainte Justine Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, H3T1C5, Canada.
9
CHU Sainte Justine Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, H3T1C5, Canada; Department of Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada.
10
Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada; Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, QC, H4A 3J1, Canada.
11
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A1A1, Canada; McConnell Brain imaging Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, Canada; Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 1A1, Canada.
12
Brain Development Cooperative Group, United States; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of California in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 90024, USA.

Abstract

Existing studies suggest that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may be important for human brain development and cognition. For example, molecular studies have hinted at the critical role of DHEA in enhancing brain plasticity. Studies of human brain development also support the notion that DHEA is involved in preserving cortical plasticity. Further, some, though not all, studies show that DHEA administration may lead to improvements in working memory in adults. Yet these findings remain limited by an incomplete understanding of the specific neuroanatomical mechanisms through which DHEA may impact the CNS during development. Here we examined associations between DHEA, cortico-hippocampal structural covariance, and working memory (216 participants [female=123], age range 6-22 years old, mean age: 13.6 +/-3.6 years, each followed for a maximum of 3 visits over the course of 4 years). In addition to administering performance-based, spatial working memory tests to these children, we also collected ecological, parent ratings of working memory in everyday situations. We found that increasingly higher DHEA levels were associated with a shift toward positive insular-hippocampal and occipito-hippocampal structural covariance. In turn, DHEA-related insular-hippocampal covariance was associated with lower spatial working memory but higher overall working memory as measured by the ecological parent ratings. Taken together with previous research, these results support the hypothesis that DHEA may optimize cortical functions related to general attentional and working memory processes, but impair the development of bottom-up, hippocampal-to-cortical connections, resulting in impaired encoding of spatial cues.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescence; Androgen; Attention; Brain development; Cortical thickness; DHEA; Puberty; Structural magnetic resonance imaging

PMID:
28946055
PMCID:
PMC5659912
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2017.09.013
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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