Steroid Hormones and the Chemistry of Behavior

  • Bruce S. McEwen
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 4)


One of the striking features of the brain in contrast to other organs of the body is the extensive regional differentiation of its structure and function. This has been known for many years by neur-oanatomists, neurophysiologists, and physiological psychologists who have explored it using such techniques as lesioning, electrical and chemical stimulation, and electrical recording. The regional differentiation of the brain is also increasingly apparent to neur-ochemists, who have discovered regional differences in the concentration of both large and small molecules within the central nervous system. One of the most striking examples of this differentiation is the distribution of the catechol and indole amines which are produced by neurons with cell bodies localized primarily within the midbrain, lower brainstem and hypothalamus, and with nerve endings which spread throughout the entire central nervous system (Fuxe, Hökfelt, and Ungerstedt, 1970). Another even more recent example, which is the subject of this chapter, is the regional distribution of proteins which stereospecifically bind steroid hormones in a manner that strongly suggests that the hormone is influencing the activity of the genome in the cell nucleus and thereby influencing neural processes underlying behavior.


Brain Region Preoptic Area Hormone Binding Retrograde Amnesia Theta Rhythm 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce S. McEwen
    • 1
  1. 1.The Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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