Young adults with severe congenital hypothyroidism: Cognitive event related potentials (ERPs) and the significance of an early start of thyroxine treatment


Beate Oerbeck, Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern & Southern Norway, PO box 23 Taasen, N-0801 Oslo, Norway. Tel: +47 22028660; fax: +47 22028641; e-mail:


Congenital hypothyroidism (CH) has devastating effects upon brain development if left untreated. Despite early start of thyroxine treatment, patients still show subtle cognitive deficits compared to controls. We aimed to study auditory event related potentials (ERPs) in young CH adults (N = 12) to verify previous reports of normal attention functions measured by P3 in CH children. We also include ERP components (P1, N1, P2) allowing assessment of a wider range of auditory processing functions. No significant change in P3 latency or amplitude was found in the CH group, but a more subtle change in amplitude topography. A later start of thyroxine treatment was related to increased P3 latency and reduced amplitude. Group differences were found in early ERP components tapping sensory processing, sensory gating and selective attention. The results suggest persisting abnormalities in auditory processing and selective attention that may have influenced cognitive development.