Hormones and Cognition

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2020) | Viewed by 30416

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Psychiatry, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Interests: steroid hormones; psychiatric disorders; cognition

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Guest Editor
Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Interests: neuroendocrinology; neuroimmunology; stress biology; sex/ gender differences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Neuroendocrine influences on cognitive function and dysfunction are well recognized. In particular, hormones related to the stress axis (the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal [HPA]) and the sex hormone axis (the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal [HPG]) are receiving growing attention in relation to the vulnerability and manifestation of several psychiatric and neurological diseases that involve cognitive disruption. For example, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis all have significant sex differences in terms of incidence and/or manifestation of symptoms. When sex differences are observed, sex chromosomes and sex hormones are likely to be implicated. Sex steroid hormones that regulate reproductive function have multiple effects on the development, maintenance, and function of the brain, including significant effects of cognitive functioning and emotion processing. Much of the existing research has focused on the role of estrogen, although more recent research has expanded the field to explore the influence of other sex steroid hormones as well as pituitary hormones. Dysregulation of the stress hormone axis has been implicated as a key risk factor in virtually all psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia, depression and complex trauma disorders, and research into how stress hormones and neuropeptides including cortisol, oxytocin, and vasopressin can moderate cognitive functioning is expanding. The potential for developing and repurposing drugs that target hormones related to the HPA and HPG axes to treat cognitive problems is a growing and promising field.

This Special Issue will cover research addressing the influence of stress and sex steroid hormones on cognitive functioning in health as well as neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The potential for drugs targeting neuroendocrine systems using a psychoneuroendocrine approach to enhance cognition and emotion regulation will also be addressed.

Dr. Caroline Gurvich
Dr. Natalie Thomas
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Sex hormones;
  • Stress hormones;
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders;
  • Neurodegenerative disorders;
  • Cognition;
  • Emotion regulation;
  • Sex differences.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 171 KiB  
Editorial
Hormones and Cognition
by Caroline Gurvich and Natalie Thomas
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(3), 318; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11030318 - 3 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1965
Abstract
Neuroendocrine influences on cognitive (dys)function are well recognized [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)

Research

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15 pages, 616 KiB  
Article
Sex Differences in Work-Stress Memory Bias and Stress Hormones
by Laurence Dumont, Marie-France Marin, Sonia J. Lupien and Robert-Paul Juster
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(7), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10070432 - 8 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3521
Abstract
Mental health problems related to chronic stress in workers appear to be sex-specific. Psychosocial factors related to work–life balance partly explain these sex differences. In addition, physiological markers of stress can provide critical information on the mechanisms explaining how chronic stress gets “under [...] Read more.
Mental health problems related to chronic stress in workers appear to be sex-specific. Psychosocial factors related to work–life balance partly explain these sex differences. In addition, physiological markers of stress can provide critical information on the mechanisms explaining how chronic stress gets “under the skull” to increase vulnerability to mental health disorders in working men and women. Stress hormones access the brain and modulate attentional and memory process in favor of threatening information. In the present study, we tested whether male and female workers present a memory bias towards work-stress related information, and whether this bias is associated with concentrations of stress hormones in reactivity to a laboratory stressor (reactive levels) and samples taken in participants’ workday (diurnal levels). In total, 201 participants (144 women) aged between 18 and 72 years underwent immediate and delayed recall tasks with a 24-word list, split as a function of valence (work-stress, positive, neutral). Participants were exposed to a psychosocial stressor in between recalls. Reactivity to stress was measured with saliva samples before and after the stressor. Diurnal cortisol was also measured with five saliva samples a day, during 2 workdays. Our exploratory results showed that men presented greater cortisol reactivity to stress than women, while women recalled more positive and neutral words than men. No sex difference was detected on the recall of work-stress words, before or after exposure to stress. These results do not support the hypothesis of a sex-specific cognitive bias as an explanatory factor for sex differences in stress-related mental health disorders in healthy male and female workers. However, it is possible that such a work-stress bias is present in individuals who have developed a mental-health disorder related to workplace stress or who have had one in the recent past. Consequently, future studies could use our stress memory bias task to assess this and other hypotheses in diverse working populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)
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13 pages, 303 KiB  
Article
Effects of Oral Contraceptive Androgenicity on Visuospatial and Social-Emotional Cognition: A Prospective Observational Trial
by Caroline Gurvich, Annabelle M. Warren, Roisin Worsley, Abdul-Rahman Hudaib, Natalie Thomas and Jayashri Kulkarni
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040194 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 30 | Viewed by 4245
Abstract
Oral contraceptives (OCs) containing estrogen and progesterone analogues are widely used amongst reproductive-aged women, but their neurocognitive impact is poorly understood. Preliminary studies suggest that OCs improve verbal memory and that OCs with greater androgenic activity may improve visuospatial ability. We sought to [...] Read more.
Oral contraceptives (OCs) containing estrogen and progesterone analogues are widely used amongst reproductive-aged women, but their neurocognitive impact is poorly understood. Preliminary studies suggest that OCs improve verbal memory and that OCs with greater androgenic activity may improve visuospatial ability. We sought to explore the cognitive impact of OCs by assessing performance of OC users at different stages of the OC cycle, and comparing this performance between users of different OC formulations according to known androgenic activity. We conducted a prospective, observational trial of OC users, evaluating cognitive performance with CogState software on two occasions: days 7–10 of active hormonal pill phase, and days 3–5 of the inactive pill phase (coinciding with the withdrawal bleed resembling menstruation). Thirty-five OC users (18 taking androgenic formulations, 17 taking anti-androgenic) were assessed. Analysis by androgenic activity showed superior performance by users of androgenic OCs, as compared to anti-androgenic OCs, in visuospatial ability and facial affect discrimination tasks. A growing understanding of cognitive effects of OC progestin androgenicity may have implications in choice of OC formulation for individuals and in future OC development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)
12 pages, 1275 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Removal of Ovarian Hormones on Cholinergic Muscarinic Receptors: Examining Prepulse Inhibition and Receptor Binding
by Sarah S. Ch’ng, Adam J. Walker, Madeleine McCarthy, Thien-Kim Le, Natalie Thomas, Andrew Gibbons, Madhara Udawela, Snezana Kusljic, Brian Dean and Andrea Gogos
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020106 - 17 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3138
Abstract
Ovarian hormones, such as estrogens and progesterone, are known to exert beneficial effects on cognition and some psychiatric disorders. The basis of these effects is not fully understood, but may involve altered cholinergic neurotransmission. This study aimed to investigate how a lack of [...] Read more.
Ovarian hormones, such as estrogens and progesterone, are known to exert beneficial effects on cognition and some psychiatric disorders. The basis of these effects is not fully understood, but may involve altered cholinergic neurotransmission. This study aimed to investigate how a lack of ovarian hormones would impact muscarinic receptor-induced deficits in prepulse inhibition (PPI) and muscarinic receptor density in several brain regions. Adult female rats were either ovariectomized, to remove the source of ovarian hormones, or left intact (sham-operated). PPI is a measure of sensorimotor gating that is typically impaired in schizophrenia patients, and similar deficits can be induced in rats by administering scopolamine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist. Our results revealed no significant effects of ovariectomy on PPI after saline or scopolamine treatment. Autoradiography was performed to measure cholinergic muscarinic receptor binding density using [3H]-pirenzepine, [3H]-AF-DX, and [3H]-4-DAMP, to label M1, M2/M4, and M3 receptors, respectively. We examined the amygdala, caudate putamen, dorsal hippocampus, motor cortex, retrosplenial cortex, and ventromedial hypothalamus. There were no significant group differences in any region for any muscarinic receptor type. These results suggest that removing peripheral ovarian hormones does not influence the cholinergic muscarinic receptor system in the context of PPI or receptor binding density. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)
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16 pages, 880 KiB  
Article
Autonomic Stress Response and Perceived Effort Jointly Inform on Dual Tasking in Aging
by Giancarlo Condello, Roberta Forte, Pablo Monteagudo, Barbara Ghinassi, Angela Di Baldassarre, Laura Capranica and Caterina Pesce
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(11), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9110290 (registering DOI) - 24 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2906
Abstract
The study investigated, through neuroendocrinological, subjective and behavioral assessments, how aging individuals cope with locomotor-cognitive dual-tasking and whether physical activity habits influence the acute response to locomotor-cognitive performance. Seventy-nine healthy participants aged 55–85 years were assessed on locomotor (gait speed, stride length) and [...] Read more.
The study investigated, through neuroendocrinological, subjective and behavioral assessments, how aging individuals cope with locomotor-cognitive dual-tasking and whether physical activity habits influence the acute response to locomotor-cognitive performance. Seventy-nine healthy participants aged 55–85 years were assessed on locomotor (gait speed, stride length) and cognitive (working memory) performances under single- and dual-task (ST, DT) conditions, and habitual physical activity (daily steps). Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was assessed immediately after performance. Salivary α-amylase (sAA) was measured prior, immediately and 5 min after performance. Gait and working memory variables, the area under the curve of sAA (AUC) and DT–ST differences (DT effects) were computed. AUC was higher when the ST or DT performance involved a locomotor component and showed a pre-to-post increment after DT only, whereas RPE was higher when performance involved a cognitive component. Daily steps neither predicted sAA, nor RPE. Associations between DT effects on sAA, RPE and performance emerged in high-active participants only. In aging individuals, DT walking elicits an autonomic stress response presumably led by the challenge to share resources relying upon common neural substrates. This autonomic response seems tuned to gait performance and subjective evaluation of effort in those more accustomed to walking. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)
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Review

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14 pages, 314 KiB  
Review
Cognition, The Menstrual Cycle, and Premenstrual Disorders: A Review
by Jessica Le, Natalie Thomas and Caroline Gurvich
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040198 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 63 | Viewed by 13709
Abstract
Sex hormones, such as estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone, have a significant influence on brain, behavior, and cognitive functioning. The menstrual cycle has been a convenient model to examine how subtle fluctuations of these hormones can relate to emotional and cognitive functioning. The aim [...] Read more.
Sex hormones, such as estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone, have a significant influence on brain, behavior, and cognitive functioning. The menstrual cycle has been a convenient model to examine how subtle fluctuations of these hormones can relate to emotional and cognitive functioning. The aim of the current paper is to provide a narrative review of studies investigating cognitive functioning in association with the menstrual cycle in biological females, with a focus on studies that have investigated cognitive functioning across the menstrual cycle in females with premenstrual mood disorders, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). In line with previous reviews, the current review concluded that there is a lack of consistent findings regarding cognitive functioning across the menstrual cycle. Most studies focused on changes in levels of blood estrogen, and neglected to explore the role of other hormones, such as progesterone, on cognitive functioning. Cognitive research involving premenstrual disorders is in its infancy, and it remains unclear whether any cognitive disturbances that are identified may be attributed to negative experience of mood and psychological symptoms or be a more direct effect of hormonal dysregulation or sensitivity. Suggestions for future research are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hormones and Cognition)
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