Front Neuroendocrinol 60 (-) 100878 [2021-01-00; online 2020-10-22]
Increasing evidence indicates that ovarian hormones affect brain structure, chemistry and function of women in their reproductive age, potentially shaping their behavior and mental health. Throughout the reproductive years, estrogens and progesterone levels fluctuate across the menstrual cycle and can modulate neural circuits involved in affective and cognitive processes. Here, we review seventy-seven neuroimaging studies and provide a comprehensive and data-driven evaluation of the accumulating evidence on brain plasticity associated with endogenous ovarian hormone fluctuations in naturally cycling women (n = 1304). The results particularly suggest modulatory effects of ovarian hormones fluctuations on the reactivity and structure of cortico-limbic brain regions. These findings highlight the importance of performing multimodal neuroimaging studies on neural correlates of systematic ovarian hormone fluctuations in naturally cycling women based on careful menstrual cycle staging.