Developmental variation in testosterone:cortisol ratio alters cortical- and amygdala-based cognitive processes

Jimin Lew, Sherri Lee Jones, Christina Caccese, Isobel Orfi, Charlotte Little, Kelly N. Botteron, James T. McCracken, Tuong Vi Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) are the end products of neuroendocrine axes that interact with the process of shaping brain structure and function. Relative levels of T:C (TC ratio) may alter prefrontal-amygdala functional connectivity in adulthood. What remains unclear is whether TC-related effects are rooted to childhood and adolescence. We used a healthy cohort of 4-22-year-olds to test for associations between TC ratios, brain structure (amygdala volume, cortical thickness (CTh), and their coordinated growth), as well as cognitive and behavioral development. We found greater TC ratios to be associated with the growth of specific brain structures: 1) parietal CTh; 2) covariance of the amygdala with CTh in visual and somatosensory areas. These brain parameters were in turn associated with lower verbal/executive function and higher spatial working memory. In sum, individual TC profiles may confer a particular brain phenotype and set of cognitive strengths and vulnerabilities, prior to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-321
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 29 2022


  • Androgens
  • TC ratio
  • adolescence
  • brain development
  • cognition


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