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Rev Neurosci. 2012;23(5-6):587-606.

Estrogen, cognitive functions and emotion: an overview on humans, non-human primates and rodents in reproductive years.

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  • 1Department of Applied Clinical and Biotechnologic Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy.


Accumulating evidence has highlighted a number of important, global issues regarding the influence of estrogen on emotion and cognitive functions,including learning and memory processes, both in animal models and humans. The influence of estrogen on cognition and emotion can be explained by taking into account its modulator role on several neurotransmitter systems, acetylcholine in particular, but also catecholamines,serotonin and GABA in rodents, primates and humans. Another reason may lie in the wide spread presence of the two classes (a and~) of estrogen receptors in many brain regions involved in emotion and cognition, including the hippocampal formation, amygdala and cerebral cortex. The present review reports on research conducted in our laboratory and others with the objective of identifying the action of estrogens on cognition and emotion in rodents, monkeys and humans in youth. In particular, the first section,focused on the mechanisms of estrogens action in the brain, illustrates the involvement of estrogen receptors and neurotransmitters in the cognitive and emotional processes; the second section deals with the estrogen effects on cognitive and emotional mechanisms, with particular emphasis on memory and the involvement of estrogen in emotion and cognition across the estrous/menstrual cycle.

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