Hormonal effects on neuroplasticity and behaviour

Contrary to popular belief, neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—occurs in the adult brain in all species, including the human. Research demonstrates that hormones play a role in neurogenesis; however, research in this area is limited. Dr. Liisa Galea researches the means by which hormones regulate adult neurogenesis, influence mood, and contribute to learning and memory processes. Focusing specifically on estrogen and corticosterone, she is examining how hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the birth and survival of neurons, how stress alters these processes, and the links to behavioural changes such as depression. Determining the functional link between hormones and neurogenesis on learning, memory and depression may result in the development of hormonal therapeutic measures for promoting cognition, and new treatments to trigger neurogenesis in diseases characterized by lost brain tissue, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.