Influence of ovarian hormones on value-based decision-making systems: contribution to sexual dimorphisms in mental disorders


Women and men exhibit differences in behavior when making value-based decisions. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain these findings, stressing differences in functional lateralization of the brain, functional activation, neurotransmitter involvement and more recently, sex hormones. While a significant interaction of neurotransmitter systems and sex hormones has been shown for both sexes, decision-making in women might be particularly affected by variations of ovarian hormones. In this review we have gathered information from animal and human studies on how ovarian hormones affect decision-making processes in females by interacting with neurotransmitter systems at functionally relevant brain locations and thus modify the computation of decision aspects. We also review previous findings on impaired decision-making in animals and clinical populations with substance use disorder and depression, emphasizing how little we know about the role of ovarian hormones in aberrant decision-making.

Frontiers of Neuroendocrinology