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Amygdala reactivity to negative stimuli is influenced by oral contraceptive use.


ABSTRACT: The amygdala is a highly interconnected region of the brain that is critically important to emotional processing and affective networks. Previous studies have shown that the response of the amygdala to emotionally arousing stimuli can be modulated by sex hormones. Because oral contraceptive pills dramatically lower circulating sex hormone levels with potent analogs of those hormones, we performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment to measure amygdala reactivity in response to emotional stimuli in women using oral contraceptives, and compared their amygdala reactivity with that of naturally cycling women. Here, we show that women who use oral contraceptive pills have significantly decreased bilateral amygdala reactivity in response to negatively valenced, emotionally arousing stimuli compared with naturally cycling women. We suggest that by modulating amygdala reactivity, oral contraceptive pills may influence behaviors that have previously been shown to be amygdala dependent-in particular, emotional memory.

SUBMITTER: Petersen N 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4560944 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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