Unraveling Individual Variability in Hormonal Mood Swings

Guest post by Brenda Patoine

The stereotype of women’s “inexplicable” mood swings has long provided fodder for comics and cartoonists, but for scientists trying to understand the underlying biology, hormonal depression is no joke.

Endocrine-related affective mood disorders show up in different forms in different phases of life, from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) during otherwise normal menstrual cycling, to post-partum depression following childbirth, to mood disruptions around and after menopause. Yet these disorders don’t affect all women, and in fact, most women do not experience them.

“How is it that some women experience a change in affective state as a result of hormones whereas a majority of women do not?” Peter Schmidt, M.D. asked in a July 8 webinar sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “That really is the million-dollar question.”

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2015 Winners of “Design a Brain Experiment” Competition

For the past four years, the Dana Foundation has received countless submissions for its annual “Design a Brain Experiment” competition. In the fall, high school students all across the country are asked to come up with innovative theories that challenge our knowledge about the brain. The proposed experiments are judged on originality, innovation, and scientific accuracy (students are not asked to complete their experiments, so creativity is encouraged).  For this year’s Brain Awareness Week, we are happy to announce the two participants that have taken home the first and second place awards! Continue reading

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