Midlife (ages 45-60) is an understudied critical period during which women undergo menopause, ovarian hormone production declines, and structural and functional changes within the brain’s memory circuitry first emerge. We launched the “Healthy Midlife Aging Study” at UCSB’s Brain Imaging Center to investigate cognitive function and associated neurophysiological activity of the brain in men and women during this uncharted decade.
In a series of dense-sampling, multimodal brain imaging studies we are examining the extent to which fluctuations in sex steroid hormones across a complete reproductive cycle -28 days- alter intrinsic functional connectivity of brain networks. Next, using high resolution hippocampal subfield imaging we establish sex hormones’ ability to rapidly and dynamically shape medial temporal lobe morphology across the human menstrual cycle.
​​​​​​​This project brings together an interdisciplinary team of experts in neuroscience, endocrinology, spatial cognition, and navigation. Combining fully immersive virtual environments and state-of-the-art brain imaging technologies, we are examining the effects of chronological and reproductive aging on spatial navigation ability and the neuronal systems that compute spatial information. 
Oral hormonal contraception (OC) is used by more than 100 million women worldwide, yet few systematic investigations have probed the short- and long-term consequences of hormonal contraceptive use on the brain. 
In mouse models, reduced telomerase activity and telomere loss have widespread consequences on neurodegeneration, including restricted neurogenesis and atrophy of white matter tracts, but there is limited evidence linking TL to age-related grey and white matter deficits in humans.
Ovarian hormone suppression, a widely used treatment for endometriosis, offers a unique clinical scenario through which to study the impact of estrogen and progesterone changes on the brain and cognition. The treatment allows for the temporary and reversible induction of a postmenopausal-like endocrine status.

The lab extends our gratitude for generous support from: the National Institutes of Health; Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, the California Nanosciences Institute, the California Department of Public Health, the University of California Regents Junior Faculty Fund, the UCSB Academic Senate, the Hellman Fellows Fund, the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind, the Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, the Harvey L. Karp Discovery Award, the Rutherford Fett Fund, and the Gottsdanker Research Fund.