Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can't focus? Maybe it's the wrong time of month

27.09.2010
New Concordia research links hormones with attention and learning

Feeling a little sluggish and having trouble concentrating? Hormones might be to blame according to new research from Concordia University published in the journal Brain and Cognition. The study shows that high estrogen levels are associated with an inability to pay attention and learn – the first such paper to report how this impediment can be due to a direct effect of the hormone on mature brain structures.

"Although estrogen is known to play a significant role in learning and memory, there has been no clear consensus on its effect," says senior author Wayne Brake, an associate professor at Concordia's Center for Studies in Behavioural Neurobiology. "Our findings, using a well-established model of learning called latent inhibition, shows conclusively that high estrogen levels inhibit the cognitive ability in female rodents."

Human females have high estrogen levels while they are ovulating. These high levels have also been shown to interfere with women's ability to pay attention.

"The similarity between human studies and our findings suggest that we have a good model for human learning," says first author Matthew Quinlan, a former Concordia doctoral student now a lecturer at California State University San Bernadino. "Rodent research is invaluable to us. We can tease out the real contributors and their respective roles in these systems. It is much more difficult to conduct comparable experiments in humans."

Latent inhibition: A model of learning

Latent inhibition is observed in many species and is believed to be the important part of learning, which enables individuals to interact successfully in their environment. It is a test of new memory formation.

In the Brake protocol, rats received a pre-exposure phase during which they were repeatedly exposed to a tone, with no consequence. Once they became used to this tone and ignored it, the test dynamics changed and another stimulus was linked to the tone. Rats with low levels of estrogen quickly learned that the tone was associated with the new stimulus whereas those with higher levels of estrogen took longer to form this memory.

"We only observed this effect in adult female rats," says Brake. "This and our other findings indicate that estrogen directly effects the brain, perhaps by interfering with brain signaling molecules. Our study helps clear up the controversy about the effects of estrogen, the next step is to look at how this occurs."

Partners in research:
This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Fonds de la recherche en santé Québec.
About the study:
"Latent inhibition is affected by phase of estrous cycle in female rats," published in the journal Brain and Cognition, was authored by Matthew G. Quinlan, Andrew Duncan, Catherine Loiselle, Nicole Graffe and Wayne G. Brake of Concordia University.
On the Web:
Cited Brain and Cognition study: http://tinyurl.com/29fufg7
Concordia University: www.concordia.ca
Concordia Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology: http://csbn.concordia.ca
Media contact:
Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
Senior advisor, media relations
Concordia University
Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 5068
Email: s-j.desjardins@concordia.ca
Concordia news: http://now.concordia.ca
Twitter: http://twitter.com/concordianews

Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.concordia.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>