The Impact of Age-Related Ovarian Hormone Loss on Cognitive and Neural Function

  • Marissa I. Boulware
  • Brianne A. Kent
  • Karyn M. FrickEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences book series (CTBN, volume 10)


On average, women now live one-third of their lives after menopause. Because menopause has been associated with an elevated risk of dementia, an increasing body of research has studied the effects of reproductive senescence on cognitive function. Compelling evidence from humans, nonhuman primates, and rodents suggests that ovarian sex-steroid hormones can have rapid and profound effects on memory, attention, and executive function, and on regions of the brain that mediate these processes, such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. This chapter will provide an overview of studies in humans, nonhuman primates, and rodents that examine the effects of ovarian hormone loss and hormone replacement on cognitive functions mediated by the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. For humans and each animal model, we outline the effects of aging on reproductive function, describe how ovarian hormones (primarily estrogens) modulate hippocampal and prefrontal physiology, and discuss the effects of both reproductive aging and hormone treatment on cognitive function. Although this review will show that much has been learned about the effects of reproductive senescence on cognition, many critical questions remain for future investigation.


Estradiol Hippocampus Prefrontal cortex Memory Menopause Aging 



This work was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Yale University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marissa I. Boulware
    • 1
  • Brianne A. Kent
    • 2
  • Karyn M. Frick
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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