Hormone effects on specific and global brain functions

J Physiol Sci. 2008 Aug;58(4):213-20. doi: 10.2170/physiolsci.RV007008. Epub 2008 May 29.


The first demonstration of how biochemical changes in neurons in specific parts of the brain direct a complete mammalian behavior derived from the effects of estrogens in hypothalamic neurons that facilitate lordosis behavior, the primary reproductive behavior of female quadrupeds (Pfaff. Estrogens and Brain Function. 1980; Pfaff. Drive: Neurobiological and Molecular Mechanisms of Sexual Motivation. 1999). Sex behaviors depend on sexual arousal that in turn depends on a primitive function: generalized CNS arousal (Pfaff. Brain Arousal and Information Theory. 2006). Here we summarize one of the ways in which a generalized arousal transmitter, norepinephrine, can influence the electrical excitability of ventromedial hypothalamic cells in a way that will foster female sex behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal*
  • Signal Transduction* / genetics
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / cytology
  • Ventromedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / metabolism*


  • Estrogens
  • Norepinephrine