Brain atlas for hormones

Making smart use of an existing ‘brain atlas’ provides a treasure trove of information on how hormones affect our brain. This is what researchers from the Pattern Recognition and Bioinformatics group (EEMCS) and colleagues from Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) published in PNAS at the end of January. The researchers applied data mining to the Allen Brain Atlas, an enormous dataset which records the activity of 20,000 genes in the brain of a mouse. Stress and sex hormones have a great impact on the brain, for example on memory and emotions. But it is still unclear which areas of the brain are affected by which hormones and exactly how this works. By looking at which genes in the same area in the brain are active as the genes that are responsible for making the hormone receptors, the researchers were able to discover all kinds of relationships. For example, the researchers saw that oestrogen and cortisol are both able to control several areas in the brain at the same time.

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