Cerebral performance is, to the main extent, dependent on the structure and dynamics of chemical synapses, via which the neurons in our brain communicate. The plasticity of these synapses on the one hand, and their stability, on the other, are the main focus of research at the Institute of Neuroanatomy. The synapses of the hippocampus, the region of brain responsible for learning and memory, constitute a large part of the research.
For the past 25 years, it has been known that synapse density in the hippocampus varies with the female genital cycle. At ovulation, the synaptic density in the female hippocampus is particularly high, and towards the end of the cycle it is much lower. Men have fewer synapses, on average, than women. The gender-specific differences in synaptic connectivity in the hippocampus, as well as the hormonal control of synaptic connectivity, are the main focus of the research group of Prof. Rune.
Professor Rune and her coworkers are engaged in the study of the role of intracerebral synthesis of sexual steroids, the existence of which was established by the group in 2003. Not only in the adult hippocampus but also during embryonic development, the research group were able to show that sex steroids synthesized in the hippocampus play a great role.