Cortisol effects on brain activity & cognition (CEBAC) Study

This is part of a long term research project looking at the biological impact of the stress hormones cortisol, on brain activity and cognition.

What does it involve?

  • 8 days taking medication to suppress natural stress hormone production and wearing a small phone-sized pump with a very small subcutaneous line (under-the-skin tube) to replenish cortisol in pulses throughout the day (this mimics your healthy rhythm).
  • You will attend 4 research visits during the 8-day period, over which you will have a training session, a pupillometry session (eye-tracking experiment) and 3 fMRI scans. There will also be two short visits to replace the line. You will also complete some questionnaires.
  • On two of the study days you will receive an elevated dose of cortisol in the morning.
  • On the final evening of the study, you will receive no replacement. You will receive cortisol replacement again the next morning.
  • Oral saliva samples will be taken at various time points to measure cortisol levels
  • You will not be able to drink alcohol, smoke, or do intense physical activity during the study.
  • You will not be able to remove the pump at any time, except to shower.
  • This treatment scheme has been used in previous studies and there is very little health risk associated. Furthermore, there are no lasting health effects after completion and you will be able to return to usual habits one day after the study.

What are the benefits to me?

There are no direct benefits to you, however we will reimburse you £200 for your time spent on the whole study period. This is to compensate you for the inconvenience of missing work or university, travel expenses etc. You may also win up to an additional £40 in the pupillometry task. Also, you will receive a sandwich lunch on visit days that run over lunchtime.

You are eligible if you meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Male, aged 18-64
  • Right-handed
  • Fit and healthy with no medical problems
  • No medications (e.g. inhalers and creams) nor illicit substances, including those that affect a person’s mental state in the past 3 months
  • Non-smoker
  • Not claustrophobic
  • Not dyslexic/dyspraxic
  • No history or diagnosis of immunosuppressive disorders, blood disorders or psychiatric illness.
  • BMI in the 18-28 range

Further information

You can download the Participant Information Sheet here

You can contact Jamie Thakrar (Neuroscience PhD student) at:

0774 6260911