The Huijgens Lab has been newly established in September 2023. The main interest of the lab lies in the effects of sex hormones on the brain and behavior.

Sex hormones: sculpting the brain to shape behavior

Sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen are known for their abundant physiological functions, but how they regulate important brain processes and behaviors, such as mood, memory, stress, and reward, remains elusive. For example, while it is clear that sex hormones are absolutely necessary for sexual behavior and aggression in both sexes, there is still a lack of insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms of sex hormone actions in the brain and how these ultimately lead to changes in behavior. Sex hormones act as architectural gatekeepers of the neuronal circuitry, changing what neurons look like and how they connect to other neurons. However, the link between these hormone-induced morphological changes in the brain and the associated dramatic effects on behavior is still not fully understood.

In this research project, we will study in animals how neuronal morphology and behavior changes upon loss and gain of sex hormones. By focusing on how exactly these morphological changes functionally affect the neuronal circuitry in the brain, we will grain more insight into how sex hormones sculpt the brain to ultimately shape behavior.


Patty Huijgens (Principal investigator)