Cortisol and induced cognitive fatigue: Effects on memory activation in healthy males

Elissa Klaassen, Renate De Groot, Elisabeth Evers, Nancy Nicolson, Dick Veltman, Jelle Jolles

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    We investigated the relationship between individual differences in acute fatigue and endogenous cor- tisol changes elicited by the sustained performance of cognitively demanding tasks (fatigue condition). Healthy males provided salivary cortisol measurements and subjective fatigue ratings, and were scanned (functional magnetic resonance imaging) during memory encoding and recognition tasks in fatigue and control conditions. A group of 15 ‘responders’ showed significantly higher cortisol levels in the fatigue condition than 12 ‘non-responders’. Responders showed higher subjective fatigue and reduced encod- ing and recognition activation than non-responders in the fatigue condition. An interaction in activation changes in the right hippocampus during encoding reflected decreased activation in responders, but somewhat increased activation in non-responders in the fatigue compared to control condition. More- over, decreased hippocampal activation in responders was associated with increased subjective fatigue. Findings are consistent with a central role for the hippocampus in differences between responders and non-responders and also implicate the right hippocampus in individual differences in induced cognitive fatigue effects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-174
    Number of pages8
    JournalBiological Psychology
    Issue number1
    Early online date3 Jun 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


    • Cortisol
    • Induced cognitive fatigue
    • Functional MRI
    • Encoding
    • Recognition


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