Lupien SJ, McEwen BS, Gunnar MR, Heim C. Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci 10: 434-445

Université de Montréal, Mental Health Research Centre, Fernand Seguin Hôpital Louis-H Lafontaine, Quebec, Canada.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 31.43). 05/2009; 10(6):434-45. DOI: 10.1038/nrn2639
Source: PubMed


Chronic exposure to stress hormones, whether it occurs during the prenatal period, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood or aging, has an impact on brain structures involved in cognition and mental health. However, the specific effects on the brain, behaviour and cognition emerge as a function of the timing and the duration of the exposure, and some also depend on the interaction between gene effects and previous exposure to environmental adversity. Advances in animal and human studies have made it possible to synthesize these findings, and in this Review a model is developed to explain why different disorders emerge in individuals exposed to stress at different times in their lives.

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Available from: Christine Heim, Aug 16, 2014
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    • "different drug use ) . While it is true that these variables are different from one another and relate to different physiological processes , they may nevertheless be compared within a meta - analytic context where the comparisons are based on the strength of associations ; ( 2 ) the type of cortisol assessment ( baseline , reactive , recovery ) . Lupien et al . ( 2009 ) have underlined how different neuroendocrine processes are responsible for baseline and reactive cortisol secretion , suggesting that relations with programming factors may also be different ; ( 3 ) the prospective or retrospective nature of the research design . Researchers have typically asked expecting mothers to provide data durin"
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    ABSTRACT: It is widely recognized that different events may take place in the intrauterine environment that may influence later developmental outcome. Scholars have long postulated that maternal prenatal stress, alcohol or drug use, and cigarette smoking may impact foetal formation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which may later influence different aspects of early childhood socioemotional and cognitive development. However, results linking each of these factors with child cortisol secretion have been mixed. The current meta-analysis examined the relation between each of these programming variables and child cortisol secretion in studies conducted up to December 31st, 2012. Studies were included if they were conducted prior to child age 60 months, and if they reported an index of effect size linking either maternal prenatal stress, alcohol or drug use, or cigarette smoking with an index of child cortisol secretion. In total, 19 studies (N=2260) revealed an average effect size of d=.36 (p<.001). Moderator analyses revealed that greater effect sizes could be traced to maternal alcohol use, to the use of retrospective research methodology, where mothers are questioned after childbirth regarding programming variables, and to the use of baseline measures of cortisol secretion, as opposed to recovery measures. Discussion focuses on processes that link the environment to foetal development and how both are linked to later adaptation. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Infant behavior & development 07/2015; 40:204-215. DOI:10.1016/j.infbeh.2015.04.004 · 1.34 Impact Factor
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    • "Additionally, aging is associated with increases in cortisol concentration, which may be linked to age-related cognitive decline (Lupien et al., 1994). Stress also contributes to elevated cortisol levels and similarly results in cognitive deficits (for review see: Lupien, et al., 2009). Therefore previous work suggests it is possible that increased cortisol levels in older individuals that occur in aging have a disruptive effect on hippocampal-dependent learning. "
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    ABSTRACT: Older adults experience parallel changes in sleep, circadian rhythms, and episodic memory. These processes appear to be linked such that disruptions in sleep contribute to deficits in memory. Although more variability in circadian patterns is a common feature of aging and predicts pathology, little is known about how alterations in circadian activity rhythms within older adults influence new episodic learning. Following 10 days of recording sleep-wake patterns using actigraphy, healthy older adults underwent fMRI while performing an associative memory task. The results revealed better associative memory was related to more consistent circadian activity rhythms, independent of total sleep time, sleep efficiency, and level of physical activity. Moreover, hippocampal activity during successful memory retrieval events was positively correlated with associative memory accuracy and circadian activity rhythm (CAR) consistency. We demonstrated that the link between consistent rhythms and associative memory performance was mediated by hippocampal activity. These findings provide novel insight into how the circadian rhythm of sleep-wake cycles are associated with memory in older adults and encourage further examination of circadian activity rhythms as a biomarker of cognitive functioning. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Neuropsychologia 07/2015; 75. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.07.020 · 3.30 Impact Factor
    • "survival in a hostile environment by amplification of threatening cues, it could eventually come with a cost: repetitive activation of the amygdala could ultimately result in wear and tear, as is, for example, observed in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex under influence of prolonged and excessive exposure to glucocorticoids (cf. " neurotoxicity hypothesis " ; Sapolsky et al., 1986; Lupien et al., 2009). A similar mechanism may, in turn, lead to smaller amygdala volumes in adulthood. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hippocampus and amygdala volumes in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to childhood trauma are relatively understudied, albeit the potential importance to the disorder. Whereas some studies reported smaller hippocampal volumes, little evidence was found for abnormal amygdala volumes. Here we investigated hippocampus and amygdala volumes and shapes in an adult sample of PTSD patients related to childhood trauma. T1-weighted MR images were acquired from 12 female PTSD patients with trauma related to physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse before age 18, and from 12 matched controls. Hippocampus and amygdala were segmented, and volumes were calculated and corrected for the total intracranial volume. Additionally, a shape analysis was done on the surface of the structures to explore abnormalities in specific subnuclei. Smaller right amygdala volumes were found in PTSD patients as compared with the controls. This difference appeared to be located specifically in the basolateral and superficial nuclei groups. Severity of sexual abuse during childhood was negatively correlated with the size of the amygdala. No difference in hippocampal volumes was found. Although our results are not conclusive, traumatic events in childhood might impede normal development of the amygdala, which could render a person more vulnerable to develop PTSD later in life. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    07/2015; 233(3). DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.07.016
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