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Cognitive Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Animals

Susan L. Schantz and John J. Widholm
Environmental Health Perspectives
Vol. 109, No. 12 (Dec., 2001), pp. 1197-1206
DOI: 10.2307/3454741
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3454741
Page Count: 10
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Abstract

A large number of chemical pollutants including phthalates, alkylphenolic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, organochlorine pesticides, bisphenol A, and metals including lead, mercury, and cadmium have the ability to disrupt endocrine function in animals. Some of these same chemicals have been shown to alter cognitive function in animals and humans. Because hormonally mediated events play a central role in central nervous system development and function, a number of researchers have speculated that the changes in cognitive function are mediated by the endocrine-like actions of these chemicals. In this paper we review the evidence that cognitive effects of chemicals classified as environmental endocrine disruptors are mediated by changes in hormonal function. We begin by briefly reviewing the role of gonadal steroids, thyroid hormones, and glucocorticoids in brain development and brain function. We then review the endocrine changes and cognitive effects that have been reported for selected endocrine-disrupting chemicals, discuss the evidence for causal relationships between endocrine disruption and cognitive effects, and suggest directions for future research.

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