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Journal Article

The peripartum human brain: Current understanding and future perspectives


Sacher,  Julia
Minerva Research Group EGG (Emotion & neuroimaGinG) Lab, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sacher, J., Chechko, N., Dannlowski, U., Walter, M., & Derntl, B. (2020). The peripartum human brain: Current understanding and future perspectives. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 59: 100859. doi:10.1016/j.yfrne.2020.100859.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-D86B-F
The peripartum period offers a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of how dramatic fluctuations in endogenous ovarian hormones affect the human brain and behavior. This notwithstanding, peripartum depression remains an underdiagnosed and undertreated disorder. Here, we review recent neuroimaging findings with respect to the neuroplastic changes in the maternal brain during pregnancy and the postpartum period. We seek to provide an overview of multimodal neuroimaging designs of current peripartum depression models of hormone withdrawal, changes in monoaminergic signaling, and maladaptive neuroplasticity, which likely lead to the development of a condition that puts the lives of mother and infant at risk. We discuss the need to effectively integrate the available information on psychosocial and neurobiological risk factors contributing to individual vulnerability. Finally, we propose a systematic approach to neuroimaging the peripartum brain that acknowledges important co-morbidities and variation in disease onset.