According to a research team study from Harvard Medical School in Boston, published in the Neuroscience Journal, hormonal changes characterizing the different reproductive stages in women’s lives can also affect brain function and worsen some processes, such as the memory.


Hormonal changes and brain function

As she explains in an interview in La Repubblica, Professor Michela Matteoli, Head of The Neuro Center in Humanitas and Director of the Neuroscience Institute at the National Research Council: “For some time, we know that brain functioning is also regulated by hormones. In women, female hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, already affect the brain development during prenatal development: control the growth of neurites (namely the extensions of neurons), the synapse formation, the formation of myelin (the sheath that covers the neuronal extensions and facilitates the spread of electrical signal), and the plasticity, or the neural basis of the learning process. In the brain, the hippocampus is the memory-related region containing high levels of estrogen and progesterone receptors. Not surprisingly, changes in hormone levels during a woman’s life are reflected in the functioning of the brain”.


Direct or indirect link?

The link between menopause and memory may not be as strong, further explains the Professor: “Many researchers believe that mental confusion at this stage of life is not directly related to the lack of hormone action at specific receptors but, indirectly, to hormonal changes in general. We know these alterations cause other symptoms such as mood swings and sleep disturbances, which in turn, can have a negative impact on cognitive functions”.