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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Apr;110:55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2014.01.017. Epub 2014 Jan 31.

Menstrual-cycle dependent fluctuations in ovarian hormones affect emotional memory.

Author information

1
Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Electronic address: j.bayer@uke.de.
2
Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Electronic address: h.schultz@uke.de.
3
Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Electronic address: m.gamer@uke.de.
4
Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Electronic address: t.sommer@uke.de.

Abstract

The hormones progesterone and estradiol modulate neural plasticity in the hippocampus, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. These structures are involved in the superior memory for emotionally arousing information (EEM effects). Therefore, fluctuations in hormonal levels across the menstrual cycle are expected to influence activity in these areas as well as behavioral memory performance for emotionally arousing events. To test this hypothesis, naturally cycling women underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during the encoding of emotional and neutral stimuli in the low-hormone early follicular and the high-hormone luteal phase. Their memory was tested after an interval of 48 h, because emotional arousal primarily enhances the consolidation of new memories. Whereas overall recognition accuracy remained stable across cycle phases, recognition quality varied with menstrual cycle phases. Particularly recollection-based recognition memory for negative items tended to decrease from early follicular to luteal phase. EEM effects for both valences were associated with higher activity in the right anterior hippocampus during early follicular compared to luteal phase. Valence-specific modulations were found in the anterior cingulate, the amygdala and the posterior hippocampus. Current findings connect to anxiolytic actions of estradiol and progesterone as well as to studies on fear conditioning. Moreover, they are in line with differential networks involved in EEM effects for positive and negative items.

KEYWORDS:

Dual process; Emotional memory; Estrogen; Functional imaging; Menstrual cycle; Progesterone

PMID:
24492058
DOI:
10.1016/j.nlm.2014.01.017
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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