About this Research Topic
Many compounds beyond ‘classic neurotransmitters’ exert profound impacts on the brain and behavior. Among these, neuropeptides and hormones (which are either synthesized within the brain itself or originate from endocrine glands and subsequently enter the brain) play a crucial role during the development of the nervous system.
The specific interaction of neuropeptides and hormones, with or without input from classic neurotransmitters, alters basic neural structures and functions as well as modulate behavioral outcomes, thus expanding the repertoire of responses through which the brain can react to environmental cues.
Our understanding of these tuned interactions has arisen in part from ongoing advances in neuroscience techniques and technologies, as well as novel questions posed to uncover the mechanism of interaction at a molecular, cellular and genetic level.
Most often, studies investigating these phenomena involve probing brain areas where hormone receptors are directly or indirectly affected by neuropeptides and/or neurotransmitters to regulate gene expression and potentially remodel the brain across the entire lifespan of an individual. However, this finely-tuned equilibrium, based on concentration levels and inhibitory or excitatory effect of hormones depending on the specific time window, is present from early stages of development. Therefore, it is poised to influence a huge array of important developmental stages such as sculpting sex-specific patterns of brain structures, circuits and gene expression. This action results, together with social and environment inputs, in different behavioral patterns.
Specific examples include the interaction between dopamine and testosterone on regulating male reproductive behavior, and the interaction of serotonin and gonadal hormones such as estradiol in sculpting the developing brain into sex-specific patterns. For example, excess serotonin in utero has been implicated as a possible etiology for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is diagnosed much more often in boys than girls.
We would like the following topics to be addressed:
- Sex differences in cognition;
- Hormonal/menstrual cycle influences on cognition;
- Effect of hormones/neuropeptides interaction during fetal, infant, and early life development;
- Stress hormones effect during development at the brain level, including stressful early life experiences such as maternal separation;
- Sex differences and hormonal influences on childhood neurological disorders.
We aim to provide a current survey of this understudied, yet growing, research area to increase knowledge focused on hormones effect during developmental stages.
For this purpose, our aim is to gather contributions from researchers who share a common interest in probing the intersection of hormones and neuropeptides, during development and their effect on behavior.
This Research Topic welcomes all article types including original research, techniques, reviews, or synthesis manuscripts.
Keywords: neurotransmitters, neuropeptide receptors, gonadal steroids, sexual differentiation, developmental psychology
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