Web edition: December 2, 2011
Print edition: December 17, 2011; Vol.180 #13 (p. 4)
HORMONES AFFECT NERVES — Add sex hormones to all the other things that can make you feel depressed on some days and elated on others. Evidence that sex hormones can affect the body’s central nervous system in roles unrelated to sexual functions has been reported by physiologists at the University of California, Berkeley. The findings show that a potent female hormone known as estradiol has a marked effect on brain excitability, a fact that may help explain the well-known monthly ups-and-downs of feminine temperament. Contrary effects produced on the brain by male and female hormones also point to a possible chemical basis for a woman’s generally more excitable nature.