25 January 2013

The HPA-Axis, Adolescence and Relationships

Organised by:

SCI's Biotechnology Group in conjunction with the University of Westminster

University of Westminster

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Dr Oskis’ area of research spans development psychophysiology, and the common theme in all his studies is a focus on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis; cortisol and DHEA. Basal rhythms of these two hormones (which included the cortisol awakening response; CAR) were examined via multiple saliva sampling in 60 healthy female adolescents, ranging from 9-18 years (mean 14, 16 SD ± 2.63 years).

In-depth examination of these diurnal rhythms revealed marked relationships with developmental markers of healthy adolescence. This work was followed by a study of ‘unhealthy’ adolescence, which involved examining salivary cortisol and DHEA in a group of adolescents with early-onset anorexia nervosa (AN). Dysregulation in the group of patients with AN was indicative of increased overall steroidogenic capacity across the day. However the next study, comprising the ‘relationships’ part of the talk, illuminates at the importance of immediate post-awakening HPA activation in our interpersonal behaviour.

Attachment style interviews were carried out in the group of healthy female adolescents and examined in relation to diurnal patterns of salivary cortisol. Differences in the CAR were revealed in terms of secure vs insecure attachment style categories. Lastly, I will talk about our future plans for investigating the psychophysiology of relationships with our new study of oxytocin and attachment.


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Venue and Contact

University of Westminster

University of Westminster,

School of Life Sciences,

115 New Cavendish Street London


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Tel: +44 (0)20 7598 1561

Email: conferences@soci.org

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Additional Info


Dr Andrea Oskis
School of Psychology, Social Work and Human Sciences, University of West London