Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered that the hormone estrogen plays a pivotal role in how the brain processes sounds.
The findings, published in the May 5 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, show for the first time that a sex hormone can directly affect auditory function, and point toward the possibility that estrogen controls other types of sensory processing as well. Understanding how estrogen changes the brain’s response to sound, say the authors, might open the door to new ways of treating hearing deficiencies.
Of particular interest is that estrogen modulates the gain of auditory neurons. This finding could be a critical to the successful treatment of sound discrimination problems and hypersensitivity to sounds in the future.