On Hormones or Off Hormones the Brain Chemistry Changes

There are literally hundreds of compounds in our circulation that affect our moods, or personality, our accomplishments, our thoughts and our thought processes. If you are having difficulty with attention it probably means a different set of chemicals than if you are having difficulty learning. When you get moody you may have one set of neurons firing at each other and if you are trying to fetch a memory you probably are firing in an entire other direction. According to Sarah Berga the Associate Dean of Women's Health Research at Wake Forest she has been able to demonstrate just how many of these functions work with functional brain studies. What they do for functional brain studies is image your brain before and after smelling compounds, or perhaps before and after reading. And then to further understand the effects of hormones they have women perform these tasks on and off hormone therapy to try to determine just how lively our brains are on hormones or off hormones and furthermore, she wants to know if combination of hormones are even better, or in fact worse for our brain function.  Midbrains use a lot of norepinephrine and this affects whether we are aroused, but midbrain dopamine is associated with the feeling of reward. On the other than dopamine in the basal forebrain affects our attention span. But Dr. Berga points out there is a lot more to the effective functioning of our brain: she says first of all: feed your brain, your brain is 2% of your body weight but it uses 25% of your calories, which is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as babies which use 60% of their energy for their brain. Something we may find, is that we might have trouble nourishing the brain as we age. What she is trying to answer, ultimate, or lets say, if she could, is whether our sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone allow for better learning, or molding of the brain, or whether they at least protect the thought functions we've already established. We wish her luck in her work, she's trying to shake up how we've previously interpreted some of the Rosetta stones of hormone research.


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