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, women and men, for women, decision-making might be particularly affected due to fluctuation 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 the relevant 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 when it comes to aberrant decision-making.

Under Review, Invited Review to Special Issue Call for Review Articles: Beyond Sex Differences - A Spotlight on Women’s Brain Health. Frontiers of Neuroendocrinology