Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Shirtcliff, Elizabeth

Second Advisor

Frick, Paul

Third Advisor

Marsee, Monica

Fourth Advisor

Vitacco, Michael


The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) and –Gonadal (HPG) axes have been considered mutually inhibitory; however, emerging evidence supports the proposition that this might not necessarily be the case. This idea is termed “coupling,” in which the HPA-HPG axis are mutually activated or deactivated. Coupling is examined across three data sets with different time-courses of stress exposure, and results demonstrate HPA-HPG co-activation occurs. Furthermore, stress exposure influences this relationship. The discussion shows how it is physiologically possible to have positive coupling or co-activation between these axes according to complex regulatory feedback systems and overlapping neural structures. Findings are interpreted developmentally, because adolescence may be a critical time for this co-activation to occur. Finally, the discussion emphasizes an individual difference perspective because each individual differs in the duration and type of stress they experience, and these exerted individualized effects on HPA-HPG coupling.


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