Adolescents' internalizing and externalizing problems predict their affect-specific HPA and HPG axes reactivity

Georges Han, Jonas G. Miller, Pamela M. Cole, Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, Paul D. Hastings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We examined psychopathology-neuroendocrine associations in relation to the transition into adolescence within a developmental framework that acknowledged the interdependence of the HPA and HPG hormone systems in the regulation of responses to everyday affective contexts. Saliva samples were collected during anxiety and anger inductions from 51 young adolescents (M13.47, SD=.60 years) to evaluate cortisol, DHEA, and testosterone responses. Internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed at pre-adolescence (M=9.27, SD=.58 years) while youths were in elementary school and concurrently with hormones in early adolescence. Externalizing problems from elementary school predicted adolescents' reduced DHEA reactivity during anxiety induction. Follow up analyses simultaneously examining the contributions of elementary school and adolescent problems showed a trend suggesting that youths with higher levels of internalizing problems during elementary school eventuated in a profile of heightened DHEA reactivity as adolescents undergoing anxiety induction. For both the anxiety and the anger inductions, it was normative for DHEA and testosterone to be positively coupled. Adolescents with high externalizing problems but low internalizing problems marshaled dual axes co-activation during anger induction in the form of positive cortisol-testosterone coupling. This is some of the first evidence suggesting affective context determines whether dual axes coupling is reflective of normative or problematic functioning in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-785
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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