Connecting the Dots: Potential Interactions Between Sex Hormones and the Circadian System During Memory Consolidation

Hannah M. Boyd, Karyn M. Frick, Janine L. Kwapis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Both the circadian clock and sex hormone signaling can strongly influence brain function, yet little is known about how these 2 powerful modulatory systems might interact during complex neural processes like memory consolidation. Individually, the molecular components and action of each of these systems have been fairly well-characterized, but there is a fundamental lack of information about how these systems cooperate. In the circadian system, clock genes function as timekeeping molecules that convey time-of-day information on a well-stereotyped cycle that is governed by the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Keeping time is particularly important to synchronize various physiological processes across the brain and body, including those that regulate memory consolidation. Similarly, sex hormones are powerful modulators of memory, with androgens, estrogens, and progestins, all influencing memory consolidation within memory-relevant brain regions like the hippocampus. Despite clear evidence that each system can influence memory individually, exactly how the circadian and hormonal systems might interact to impact memory consolidation remains unclear. Research investigating either sex hormone action or circadian gene function within memory-relevant brain regions has unveiled several notable places in which the two systems could interact to control memory. Here, we bring attention to known interactions between the circadian clock and sex hormone signaling. We then review sex hormone–mediated control of memory consolidation, highlighting potential nodes through which the circadian system might interact during memory formation. We suggest that the bidirectional relationship between these two systems is essential for proper control of memory formation based on an animal’s hormonal and circadian state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-555
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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