Hormonal Influences on Brain Structure and Function

Previous Project at MPIB

In this project, we are interested in the influence of hormones on the brain structure. Animal studies proved that female hormones, as estrogen for instance, can influence the brain as well as the behavior. We want to investigate those connections.

In a first study women were measured on four time-points during their menstrual cycle. The brain structure was assessed by means of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. The results show that the volume of the hippocampus, a brain structure that is important for memory and spatial abilities, differs across the menstrual cycle.

A further project is concerned with the influence of pregnancy and childbirth on the brain structure memory of women. Previous studies show decreasing memory capacities in pregnant women, regenerating during the months after birth. We are interested in the neuronal basis of these transformations.

Schwanger! | Pregnant! | Forschungsprojekt "Motherbrain"
© iStockphoto

Team of the MotherBrain Study

Teamfoto | Studie MotherBrain
© MPI fuer Bildungsforschung

From left to right: Johan Mårtensson, Ludmila Müller, Simone Kühn, Nina Lisofsky

Principal Investigators

Simone Kühn, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (since 2016)
Ulman Lindenberger
Nina Lisofsky, Agaplesion Diakonieklinikum Rotenburg
Johan Mårtensson, Lund University
Ludmila Müller (Research coordinator)

Collaboration Partners

Jürgen Gallinat, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
Anne Eckart, Universitätsklinik Basel
Laura Trost, Charité
Eva-Maria Löbelein, Charité


Lisofsky, N., Riediger, M., Gallinat, J., Lindenberger, U., & Kühn, S. (2016). Hormonal contraceptive use is associated with neural and affective changes in healthy young women. NeuroImage, 134, 597–606. doi: 10.1016/ j.neuroimage.2016.04.009

Lisofsky, N., Lindenberger, U., & Kühn, S. (2015). Amygdala/ hippocampal activation during the menstrual cycle: Evidence for lateralization of effects across different tasks. Neuropsychologia, 67, 55–62. doi: 10.1016/ j.neuropsychologia.2014.12.005

Lisofsky, N., Mårtensson, J., Eckert, A., Lindenberger, U., Gallinat, J., & Kühn, S. (2015). Hippocampal volume and functional connectivity changes during the female menstrual cycle. NeuroImage, 118, 154–162. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.06.012