Hormone therapy does not modify emotion-induced brain activity in older women

Horm Behav. 2009 Nov;56(5):539-47. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Sep 24.


Sex hormones have actions in brain regions important for emotion, including the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Previous studies have shown that cyclic sex hormones and hormone therapy after menopause modify responses to emotional events. Thus, this study examined whether hormone therapy modified emotion-induced brain activity in older women. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), behavioral ratings (valence and arousal), and recognition memory were used to assess responses to emotionally laden scenes in older women currently using hormone therapy (HT) and women not currently using hormone therapy (NONE). We hypothesized that hormones would affect the amount or persistence of emotion-induced brain activity in the amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). However, hormone therapy did not affect brain activity with the exception that NONE women showed a modest increase over time in amygdala activity to positive scenes. Hormone therapy did not affect behavioral ratings or memory for emotional scenes. The results were similar when women were regrouped based on whether they had ever used hormone therapy versus had never used hormone therapy. These results suggest that hormone therapy does not modify emotion-induced brain activity, or its persistence, in older women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amygdala / drug effects*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / drug effects
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology