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"Menopause brain" is real. Here's how women's brains change in middle age

"Menopause brain" is real. Here's how women's brains change

For decades, some doctors have told women that the brain fog, insomnia, and mood swings they experience in middle age are "all in their heads." Now, imaging studies of women's brains—conducted before, during, and after menopause—reveal dramatic physical changes in structure, connectivity, and energy metabolism. These changes aren't just visible on scans, but many women can also feel them, said Lisa Mosconi, a neuroscientist and author of "The Menopausal Brain." Share

"Menopause affects the brain," said Mosconi, a professor in New York City. "We are not crazy. We are not losing our reason."

Mosconi and her colleagues imaged the women's brains and found that gray matter volume was reduced in areas of the brain involved in attention, concentration, language and memory.

And there's a drop in the brain's energy levels, which means the brain pulls glucose from the bloodstream and doesn't burn it as quickly or, perhaps, as efficiently as it used to, Mosconi said.