Sept. 18, 2020

127: Decoding the Female Brain. Hormones, Brain Areas that Change Throughout the Lifespan | Dr. Sarah McKay

127: Decoding the Female Brain. Hormones, Brain Areas that Change Throughout the Lifespan | Dr. Sarah McKay

For women, understanding how the brain works during the key stages of life - in utero, childhood, puberty and adolescence, pregnancy and motherhood, menopause and old age - is essential to their health. Dr Sarah McKay is a neuroscientist who knows everything worth knowing about women's brains, and shares it in this fascinating, essential episode.


Understanding how the brain grows and changes through the stages of life is key to health and wellbeing. This is not an episode about the differences between male and female brains, nor a an episode using neuroscience to explain gender-specific behaviours, the 'battle of the sexes' or 'Mars-Venus' stereotypes. This is an episode about what happens inside the brains and bodies of women as they move through the phases of life, and the unique - and often misunderstood - effects of female biology and hormones.

Dr McKay gives insights into brain development during infancy, childhood and the teenage years (including the onset of puberty) and also takes a look at mental health as well as the ageing brain. The episode weaves together findings from the research lab, case studies and interviews with neuroscientists and other researchers working in the disciplines of neuroendocrinology, brain development, brain health and ageing.

In the episode you will learn specifically about the brain during: 

1. Phases of brain changes: Childhood, Puberty, The Menstrual Cycle, The Teenage Brain, Depression and Anxiety, Pregnancy and Motherhood, Menopause, The Ageing Brain

2. Structural differences between male and female brains 

3. Biggest studies that have been done on the gendered brain 

4. What happens in the brain of a male when he is becoming a father? 

5. Hormones related to brain change 

6. What is brain fog? how to overcome brain fog 

7. Are women crazy when they have PMS? What happens to the brain when women are menstruating 

8. Neurobiology and evolution of the brain

9. How how environment shapes our mind and brain "the meaning we make of our life experiences changes the contexts that we're in"

We also have some fun commentary and laughter where I share some personal stories about myself and what it means to be a woman who experiences a crazy surge of hormones once a month.

Find more about Sarah here on Instagram.

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