Neurobehavioral effects of harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins: a critical review

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2005 May;11(3):331-8. doi: 10.1017/S1355617705050381.


Human exposure to naturally occurring marine toxins has been associated with a range of neurobehavioral abnormalities. The toxins are produced by harmful algal blooms (HABs) and are typically contracted through seafood consumption. The primary target of many of the HAB toxins is the neurologic system, and the neurobehavioral symptoms associated with the HAB illnesses have influenced public health policy. The HAB-related illnesses most frequently linked to neuropsychological disturbance are Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, Ciguatera Fish Poisoning, and Possible Estuarine Associated Syndrome, which is associated with exposure to the Pfiesteria piscicida organism. Although the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying many of the HAB illnesses have been well delineated, the literature examining the neuropsychological impairments is unclear and needs to be defined. This review is intended to introduce an emerging area of study linking HAB illnesses with neuropsychological changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / diagnosis
  • Amnesia / etiology*
  • Ciguatera Poisoning / complications*
  • Ciguatera Poisoning / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pfiesteria piscicida*