05 March 2013

Estrogen and Neuronal Physiology, why am I sometimes irrational?

I came across this thought reawakening byway of a paper 'Acute effects of Estrogen on Neuronal Physiology' by Catherine S. Woolley, via the Department of Physiology at Northwestern University. This paper is largely the source of my researching all the facts they present in the paper and worth the read. As I am a woman, and thus invested, whom is also highly introspective, I can gauge my rationale disruptions literally around my estrus cycle, and as a thinker, I find it forever annoying that there is a clear variance sometimes in my ability for rational thought. SO, I decided to see what sort of information was available regarding this area and hormones effects on my oh so precious brain.

And oh what a fascinating journey it has become. I knew already that both the brain and ovaries produce estrogen, but have learned that the amazing temporary organ, the placenta, also produces estrogen as part of its function. Additionally, some types of estrogen in minute quantities are also produced in the liver, the adrenal glands, the breasts, and fat cells! Not only does estrogen, as well as testosterone, effect our sexual cycles and natures, along with androgens, but they do many other 'jobs' as well. Its effects spam mood, serotonin, breast cancer, promoting wound healing, and so on. But I digress... But, what of MY mind?

In the 1970's, Martin Kelly produced conclusions that estrogen has the power to effect the firing rate of hypothalamic neurons within a mere few minutes, years later studies and results have concluded that estrogen receptors exist in the hippocampus, that receptors can exist inside actual synapses (thus effecting memory and predisposed behavior), as well as has a significant effect on memory.

Oh boy, I don't think chamomile tea is going to be strong enough to prepare me for this one...

So yay, good news first, estrogens have been numerously associated to a better ability at memory retention, though these effects are short lived as with most things also counter studies exist, not to mention quite a bit of controversy over hormone replacement therapy for cognitive degenerate diseases. Interestingly, there has also been studies to show that estradiol synthesis might happen post synapses formation, and potentially effect neuronal networks surrounding it. Thus, with influxes, not only is new memory formation potentially modified (or different than sans estrogens influx) but also that other memory can be effected as well. From 'Estogens and memory in physiological and neuropathological conditions':

"Ovarian hormones can influence brain regions crucial to higher cognitive functions, such as learning and memory, acting at structural, cellular and functional levels, and modulating neurotransmitter systems. Among the main effects of estrogens, the protective role that they may play against the deterioration of cognitive functions occuring with normal aging is of essential importance. In fact, during the last century, there has been a 30 years increase in female life expectancy ... Therefor, women are now spending a greater fraction of their lives in a hypoestrogenic state. Although many cognitive functions seem to be unaffected by normal aging, age-related impairments are particularly evident in tasks involving working memory (WM), whose deficits are a recognized feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Many studies conducted over the past two decades showed that the female gonadal hormone estradiol can influence performance of learning and memory tasks, both in animal and humans. There is a great deal of evidence, mostly from animal models, that estrogens can facilitate or enhance performance on WM tasks; therefore, it is very important to clarify their role on this type of memory."

Overall, my general understanding of these studies perused, articles absorbed, and research of the predominant publications, is that estrogens have a significant effect on the minds formation of information, ongoingly is able to continue modifying, they have the ability to far more quickly form synapsis, and as expected, play both a role in our perception as well as emotion. What is not entirely clear scientifically, is that during cycles of estrus, is whether the perception is temporarily modified, or if we are literally reprogramming things that already exist due to the modification of current perception. The increased speed of neuronal firing creating and forming information both more quickly as well as more solid and permanent, makes me believe that perhaps it is somewhat of an adjusting process.

Perhaps women are not 'crazy' at times of the month, but rather, temporarily brilliant ;)

1 comment:

  1. A. Monty MontgomeryMay 24, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    I think your blog is pretty cool. I stumbled upon it today because I am looking to start my own science blog. Your approach to posts are very interesting to read because it's relatable as well as intelligent.


I've Thought...

03.09 ~ I am but human, in my thoughts and desires- in my inconsistencies. It makes my opposing decisions no less real, no less quantitative... confusion is but the eye of truth, beckoning reason. ~ 03.12 ~ Time. It's existence is action progression, regression, reflection and projection. What in time is solidified and carried to another time is my choice. In one choice you lose all others; as an atom appreciates when the observer decides. It's a blue ocean of intrigue and a wave of contentment- that I am lost in, whilst, carried by. ~ 03.23 ~ That we are all part of one pulsing energy of life.. ~ 3.28 ~ There is no greater power, than the power of words. In speech we pass each other in halls, ride in elevators and embark in the great adventure that are words - with all of their beauty and intrigue. There are no wrong words spoken, only wrong interpretations and implications. Honest words are organic, true and expressions of what we are; existing autonomously and innocently, regardless of what others may think of them. 3.30 ~ That, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It certainly doesn't help being in the company of those who have succeeded in accumulating far more knowledge than I. Is the differentiation between intelligence and knowledge simply the accumulation verses the ability to learn/understand? Or, are the two interchangeable. I feel as though time is passing faster than my ability to accumulate... do other people share this conundrum, I wonder... 4.02 ~ That, "It is what it is" isn't exactly accurate. "It is what I make it" is more so... 4.08 ~ That, "it's not time that matters... it's that mattering is what makes time." 4.12 ~ I watch and wonder... think and ponder... about it. Should I find that I have analyzed to much, to little; or that the quandary was all for not, I'll not know till the applicable time has passed.I hereby instill time as my guide, innocently and fully without disposition and without angst. (4.17) ~ Though random, we should not ignore paths crossed. Just as, we should not entirely exclude emotion from our conclusions. (4.26) ~ That I dispise my lack of control over my own intentions and wonder why I am so weak in this regard. (4.27) ~ That I have opened doors, I wished to open, while simultaniously putting other doors at risk of closing. It's not with resistance I contemplate, it's with anxiety. (4.28) That, I should take a break. Time to simply be, for a bit. (5.01) Its hunger drives decent of rational, a battle of wit and need. Like rain pouring down, wisped by winds, settled by gravity, I’m drawn to it ~ KAS