Research NewsNeuroscience

Estrogen Stakes Claim to Cognition

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 675-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.675

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A recent spate of studies has shown that estrogen, a hormone previously thought to be needed only for female reproduction, has many effects on brain neurons. It may boost production of one of the brain's important neurotransmitters, spurs nerve-cell growth and the formation of connections between neurons, and even keeps nerve cells alive by shielding them from toxins. These effects could give estrogen the ability to improve such higher mental functions as learning and memory in normal women.