Sex hormones link to brain power boost

HORMONE therapy can make the brain "younger" and could protect against strokes, scientists have revealed.

Tests on post-menopausal women taking hormone therapy (HT) suggest the drugs can make their brains function more like those of younger women.

A study by Durham University found that, when women taking HT were asked to complete tasks of fine motor co-ordination, such as sequential finger tapping, the left and right sides of the brain worked more closely together than women of the same age who were not taking the sex hormone drugs.

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Researchers claim this mirrors the brain activity of younger women who naturally produce the sex hormones.

Ultimately, researchers hope to find out if sex hormones can make the brain more resistant to damage through stroke or other injuries.

The researchers suggest the extent to which this is the case is influenced by the level of sex hormones.

The study's findings suggest HT helps open the gateway between the left and right side of the brain and encourages interaction between the two halves.

Lead researcher, Durham University psychologist Dr Markus Hausmann, said: "The tests with post-menopausal women show that HT can help both sides of the brain pull their weight, much in the same way as the brain organises itself in younger women."