Timothy McHale

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Nevada, Las Vegas, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9239

Approve Date

April 8, 2016

Project Title

McHale, Timothy Sean, U. of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV - To aid research on 'Investigating Acute Steroid Hormone Change in Response to Competition among Hong Kong Juvenile Boys,' supervised by Dr. Peter Gray

Preliminary abstract: The aim of the proposed research is to investigate steroid hormone response to physical and non-physical forms of male-male competition among juvenile boys in Hong Kong. The goal of this research is to provide novel insights into the proximate mechanisms that mediate competitive social behavior in boys and to assess the factors that potentially contribute to acute reactive changes of adrenal steroid hormones during juvenile development. Three independent research studies will be conducted during a 1) head-to-head table tennis tournament, 2) soccer match and soccer scrimmage, 3) and a math competition. Boys’ before and after saliva samples will be collected to evaluate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, using biomarkers: dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, cortisol, and testosterone. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) will be used to measure the hormone concentrations of the samples, the most technically sophisticated and accurate method of analysis available. I hypothesize that children may have evolved an endocrine pathway that is unique to the juvenile stage of development, such that DHEA and androstenedione, rather than testosterone, will acutely rise in order to meet the physical and cognitive demands of social competition. I predict that boys will experience acute increases in DHEA and androstenedione in all three studies. Additionally, I predict acute hormone changes will be associated with psychosocial variables, such as competitor type (in-group vs. out-group), self-reported individual performance, and outcome of the contest (victory/defeat). Testosterone is predicted to exert no measurable effects in all three studies.