It is well-known that as males age, testosterone levels in their blood decrease and their cognitive function declines. Testosterone is a type of hormone known as an androgen which functions by binding to an androgen receptor. Androgens play important roles in cognition, which means it’s possible that age-related declines in testosterone contribute to changes in cognition as males age.
Until now, studies in this area of research have focused on the hypothalamus and hippocampus, parts of the brain that aren’t as heavily involved in higher-order cognition. A new study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior by former Master’s student Katelyn Low and Psychology Professors Dr. Kiran Soma and Dr. Stan Floresco, looks at another area of the brain.
“To our knowledge, this was one of the first studies that looked at the effects of age on androgen receptors in the prefrontal cortex,” says Katelyn Low, first author of the paper who worked in Dr. Soma’s lab. “The prefrontal cortex controls executive function and is an area of the brain that’s really important for decision making, flexible thinking, and coordinating complex behaviours that are used on a daily basis and that we know are impacted by aging.”