Circadian fluctuations in glucocorticoid level predict perceptual discrimination sensitivity

Jonas Obleser*, Jens Kreitewolf, Ricarda Vielhauer, Fanny Lindner, Carolin David, Henrik Oster, Sarah Tune

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
8 Zitate (Scopus)


Slow neurobiological rhythms, such as the circadian secretion of glucocorticoid (GC) hormones, modulate a variety of body functions. Whether and how endocrine fluctuations also exert an influence on perceptual abilities is largely uncharted. Here, we show that phasic increases in GC availability prove beneficial to auditory discrimination. In an age-varying sample of N = 68 healthy human participants, we characterize the covariation of saliva cortisol with perceptual sensitivity in an auditory pitch discrimination task at five time points across the sleep-wake cycle. First, momentary saliva cortisol levels were captured well by the time relative to wake-up and overall sleep duration. Second, within individuals, higher cortisol levels just prior to behavioral testing predicted better pitch discrimination ability, expressed as a steepened psychometric curve. This effect of GCs held under a set of statistical controls. Our results pave the way for more in-depth studies on neuroendocrinological determinants of sensory encoding and perception.

Zeitschrift iScience
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 23.04.2021

Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren

  • Forschungsschwerpunkt: Gehirn, Hormone, Verhalten - Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


  • 205-17 Endokrinologie, Diabetologie, Metabolismus