Sex Steroid Hormone Determination of the Maternal Brain: Effects Beyond Reproduction

Author(s): C.H. Kinsley, E. Meyer, K.A. Rafferty

Journal Name: Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 12 , Issue 11 , 2012

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Herein we discuss the effects of hormones on reproduction, but with a focus on the ripples that emanate from the main effects. That is, the role of hormones in reproductive events is both well-known and well accepted; less studied and understood are effects that appear to be ancillary to the primary objectives of the hormonal effects, which support, complement and extend their primary effects. We present evidence for how the hormonal stimulation of pregnancy constructs the maternal brain; makes it more efficient; enhances cognition; regulates stress responsiveness; modifies sensory systems (we discuss mainly olfaction); neurogenesis; and learning. Thus, steroid and other hormones and neuropeptides restructure the nervous system, particularly of females, to produce and regulate maternal behavior as well as behaviors and physiological systems that contribute to and support what is arguably the primary function of the hormones: survival and effective nurturance of the female’s metabolic and genetic investment.

Keywords: Dendritic spines, hippocampus, medial preoptic area (mPOA), parity, predation, prospective memory, spatial Memory, prolactin, neurogenesis

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Article Details

Year: 2012
Page: [1063 - 1070]
Pages: 8
DOI: 10.2174/138955712802762248
Price: $65

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