Cognitive changes in short-term hypothyroidism assessed with event-related brain potentials

Thomas F. Münte*, Christian Lill, Gundula Ötting, Georg Brabant

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


Hypothyroidism is a common clinical problem during 131Iodine- therapy of thyroid cancer. In the present investigation, possible cognitive dysfunction during hypothyroid state was assessed by means of neuropsychological tests and the recording of event-related brain potentials (ERPs). Fifteen patients undergoing therapy for thyroid cancer were examined twice: (1) substituted with thyroid hormones, (2) during hypothyroid state immediately prior to treatment. Standard neuropsychological tests were applied during both sessions and subjects showed a mild-to-moderate impairment in their hypothyroid state. In addition, ERPs were recorded from 19 scalp sites while subjects performed two visual search tasks. The serial task required the effortful one-by-one scanning of several items within a visual array, while the parallel task allowed processing of all stimulus items in parallel and automatically. ERPs showed a marked amplitude decrement and delay of the P3 component known to index the speed of stimulus evaluation and the amount of available processing resources. This effect was present only for the serial search task, while no changes were seen in the parallel search task. These data show that hypothyroidism during 131Iodine-therapy is associated with clinically relevant cognitive dysfunctions, especially with effortful attention demanding tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1109-1118
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2004

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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