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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Estrogen and the Brain

Estrogen is a powerful brain hormone and a modulator of neuron signaling in the female brain. Estrogen is beneficial for thought, verbal expression, and verbal memory as well as a host of other brain benefits including the response to stress. The way estrogen may be beneficial on the brain has just begun to be understood. Estrogens are thought to be both neurotrophic, meaning they recruit neurons to a task and neuroprotective, meaning they help the brain cells function well and have longer lives. Estrogens both can affect the membranes of the brain cells as well as the more fundamental function of brain neurons as there are estrogen receptors that are deeper within brain cells. Estrogen similarly interacts with other brain chemicals to help affect these actual brain functions including the cholinergic system which results in effects of brain estrogen on verbal learning and attention.In fact, menopausal women can have better preservation of some brain function if they are treated with estrogen. How all this relates to the male brain is less well understood. The male hormone testosterone gets converted to estrogen, and thus some male brain function may be mediated by the female hormone not the male hormones! So in the future think twice before you use the phrases: think like a girl, or think like a guy!

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