Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain's Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs And Flows With A Woman's Hormonal Cycle

Date:
February 5, 2007
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Summary:
Fluctuations in sex hormone levels during women's menstrual cycles affect the responsiveness of their brains' reward circuitry, an imaging study has revealed. While women were winning rewards, their circuitry was more active if they were in a menstrual phase preceding ovulation and dominated by estrogen, compared to a phase when estrogen and progesterone are present. These first pictures of sex hormones influencing reward-evoked brain activity in humans may provide insights into mood and anxiety disorders.

Brain activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (yellow), part of the brain's reward system, was increased during women's pre-ovulatory (follicular) menstrual phase compared to their-post-ovulatory (luteal) phase while they were anticipating winning money. Located just behind the eyes, this area is thought to regulate emotion and reward-related planning behavior. Functional MRI data superimposed on structural MRI scan. (Source: NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging)

Fluctuations in sex hormone levels during women's menstrual cycles affect the responsiveness of their brains' reward circuitry, an imaging study at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has revealed. While women were winning rewards, their circuitry was more active if they were in a menstrual phase preceding ovulation and dominated by estrogen, compared to a phase when estrogen and progesterone are present.

"These first pictures of sex hormones influencing reward-evoked brain activity in humans may provide insights into menstrual-related mood disorders, women's higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders, and their later onset and less severe course in schizophrenia," said Karen Berman, M.D., chief of the NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging. "The study may also shed light on why women are more vulnerable to addictive drugs during the pre-ovulation phase of the cycle."

Berman, Drs. Jean-Claude Dreher, Peter Schmidt and colleagues in the NIMH Intramural Research Program report on their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study online during the week of January 29, 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Reward system circuitry includes: the prefrontal cortex, seat of thinking and planning; the amygdala, a fear center; the hippocampus, a learning and memory hub; and the striatum, which relays signals from these areas to the cortex. Reward circuit neurons harbor receptors for estrogen and progesterone. However, how these hormones influence reward circuit activity in humans has remained unclear.

To pinpoint hormone effects on the reward circuit, Berman and colleagues scanned the brain activity of 13 women and 13 men while they performed a task involving simulated slot machines. The women were scanned before and after ovulation.

The fMRI pictures showed that when the women were anticipating a reward, they activated the amygdala and a cortex area behind the eyes that regulates emotion and reward-related planning behavior more during the pre-ovulation phase (four to eight days after their period began) than in the post-ovulatory phase.

When they hit the jackpot and actually won a reward, women in the pre-ovulatory phase activated the striatum and circuit areas linked to pleasure and reward more than when in the post-ovulatory phase.

The researchers also confirmed that the reward-related brain activity was directly linked to levels of sex hormones. Activity in the amygdala and hippocampus was in lockstep with estrogen levels regardless of cycle phase; activity in these areas was also triggered by progesterone levels while women were anticipating rewards during the post-ovulatory phase. Activity patterns that emerged when rewards were delivered during the post-ovulatory phase suggested that estrogen's effect on the reward circuit might be altered by the presence of progesterone during that period.

Men showed a different activation profile than women during both anticipation and delivery of rewards. For example, men had more activity in a striatum (signal relay station) area during anticipation compared to women and women had more activity in a frontal cortex (executive hub) area at the time of reward delivery compared to men.

Also participating in the study were: Philip Kohn, Daniella Furman, NIMH Section on Integrative Neuroimaging; and David Rubinow, NIMH Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Branch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Brain's Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs And Flows With A Woman's Hormonal Cycle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070203103344.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. (2007, February 5). Brain's Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs And Flows With A Woman's Hormonal Cycle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070203103344.htm
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health. "Brain's Reward Circuit Activity Ebbs And Flows With A Woman's Hormonal Cycle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070203103344.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) — Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) — Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) — At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins