Hippocampal structural changes across the menstrual cycle
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in association with Jacobian-modulated voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was used to test for regional variation in gray matter over the menstrual cycle. T1-weighted anatomical images were acquired using a spoiled gradient recalled acquisition sequence in 21 women. Each subject was scanned twice: once during the postmenstrual late-follicular phase (Days 10-12 after onset of menses), and once during the premenstrual late-luteal phase (1-5 days before the onset of menses). Gray matter was relatively increased in the right anterior hippocampus and relatively decreased in the right dorsal basal ganglia (globus pallidus/putamen) in the postmenstrual phase. Verbal declarative memory was increased in the postmenstrual vs. premenstrual phase. This first report of human brain structural plasticity associated with the endogenous menstrual cycle extends well-established animal findings of hormone-mediated hippocampal plasticity to humans, and has implications for understanding alterations in cognition and behavior across the menstrual cycle.