Stability of resting state networks in the female brain during hormonal changes and their relation to premenstrual symptoms

Timo De Bondt, Dirk Smeets, Pim Pullens, Wim Van Hecke, Yves Jacquemyn, Paul M. Parizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Resting-state fMRI is a promising imaging technique to evaluate functions in the human brain in health and disease. Different hormonal stages of the female menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives use affect results in task-based fMRI; it is however not yet clarified whether resting state networks are also altered. A population of 18 women with a natural cycle, and 19 women using hormonal contraceptives was examined in a longitudinal study-design. The natural cycle group was scanned at 3 time-points (follicular phase, ovulation, luteal phase), and the contraceptives group was scanned twice (inactive pill-phase, active pill-phase). Blood samples were acquired to evaluate hormonal concentrations, and premenstrual symptoms were assessed through daily record of severity of problems questionnaires. Results show no major alterations in the default mode network and the executive control network between different hormonal phases, across or within groups. A positive correlation of functional connectivity in the posterior part of the default mode network (DMN) was found with premenstrual-like symptoms in the hormonal contraceptives group. Using the current methodology, the studied resting state networks seem to show a decent stability throughout menstrual cycle phases. Also, no effect of hormonal contraceptive use is found. Interestingly, we show for the first time an association of DMN alterations with premenstrual-like symptoms, experienced during the inactive pill-phase by a sub-population of women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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