Externalizing and internalizing behavior problems can have deleterious psychosocial consequences for youth. Both sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis activity and reactivity may contribute to behavior problems but have largely been studied separately, with inconsistent findings. Because the SNS and HPA axis interact to carry out physiological processes (e.g., responding to stressors), considering SNS and HPA axis activity jointly may elucidate disparate findings. This review discusses studies that simultaneously assessed SNS and HPA axis (re)activity and youth behavior problems using measures of salivary alpha amylase (sAA) and salivary cortisol. Multiple patterns of SNS and HPA axis coordination were associated with problem behaviors, especially when considering individual differences and youth's psychosocial context. Importantly, many study findings may be artifacts of widespread methodological differences. The reviewed studies lay the foundation for future research on neuroendocrine coordination as a contributing factor to youth problem behaviors and some recommendations for future research are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience