Winter School: Sex Hormones and the Brain
Matariki Winter School and Symposium 2018

from: 2018, 31 Jan - 09:00 to: 2018, 02 Feb - 17:00

From January 31st to February 2nd 2018, the CIN, the University of Tübingen and the University of Uppsala are happy to invite you to our Matariki Winter School & Symposium on “Sex hormones and the brain” hosted at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen.


The Winter School attendees will have a unique opportunity to learn about the effects of human sex hormones on essential aspects of mental health and disease, including mood, structural and functional brain connectivity, (social) cognition, metabolism and gender from the leading international researchers during four designated symposia.

An honorary lecture will be given by Niels Birbaumer, professor at the University of Tübingen, who inspired and significantly influenced the field of Biological Psychology and Neuroscience. Leading experts on post-partum depression, Vibe G. Frojkaer from University of Copenhagen, and gender differences, Ute Habel from RWTH Aachen University, will present their most important and most recent findings in two keynote lectures.

Honorary and keynote lectures are open to the public.

Participants will also have an opportunity to present their own work as a poster at the Poster Blitz and receive feedback from their fellows as well as more experienced colleagues at a Poster session.

The event is organized within the framework of the Matariki Network of Universities, as part of the network's 'Brain and Mind' focus field.


To be female or male is one of the most important biological determinants of life with critical consequences for several aspects ranging from cognitive and emotional behavior to human health. Consequently, sex hormone levels differ between women and men and influence brain structure and function prenatally. However, sex hormones also have life-long active effects on human behavior and the brain. Yet, until recently sex-related differences were almost completely neglected and brain research was mostly performed in male animals and men. Focusing on male organisms has critical consequences for human health inasmuch as studying only 50% of the population ignores the other half of humankind.

• Honorary lecture

Prof. Dr. Niels Birbaumer (University of Tübingen): From musical talent and hormones to brain computer interfaces

• Keynotes

Prof. Dr. Vibe G. Frojkaer (University of Copenhagen): Sex hormone fluctuations as a risk model for depressive episodes; implications for stratification

Prof. Dr. Ute Habel (RWTH Aachen University): Putting gender into question: from sex differences to gender dysphoria

Symposium: Sex hormones and the mood

Across the world prevalence rates of most mental disorders differ between women and men. Recent studies suggest some of those differences may be linked to sex hormones and their action on brain circuits. For example, women are at relatively greater lifetime risk than men to develop depressive disorders which has been partly traced back to heightened risk during marked fluctuations in sex hormones in periods such as pregnancy, postpartum period and peri-menopause. However, it is not fully understood how gender, sex and sex hormone fluctuations contribute to the pathogenesis and development of mental disorders.


PD Dr. Julia Sacher (MPI Leipzig): Sex-hormone fluctuations as a risk model for postpartum mood disorders

Dr. Malin Gingnell (University of Uppsala): Premenstrual dysphoria

Symposium: Sex hormones and functional connectivity

Functional and structural connectivity in the brain is affected by sex hormone concentrations, leading to sex differences as well as differences across the menstrual cycle or during oral contraceptive intake. Thus, it is clear that sex hormones – estrogens, progesterone and testosterone – exert distinct modulatory effects but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood.


Dr. Lydia Kogler (University of Tübingen): Impact of sex hormones and cortisol on functional connectivity of the amygdala in women and men

Prof. Anna-Karin Wikström (University of Uppsala): MR studies of cerebral physiology and metabolism in normal pregnancy and preeclampsia

Symposium: Sex hormones and cognition

Behavioral and neuroimaging evidence indicates that endogenous hormonal fluctuations, as observed during the menstrual cycle, affect a variety of behaviors and cognitive abilities in women. Women score lower on spatial tasks, but higher on verbal tasks in the late follicular (2–3 days pre-ovulation) and subsequent luteal phase compared to the menstrual and early follicular phase. These behavioral variations have been linked to cyclic changes in brain structure and function.


Dr. Janine Bayer (University of Hamburg): The effects of estrogen on emotional memory and its neuronal correlates

Dr. Belinda Pletzer (University of Salzburg): Sex differences in cognitive strategies

Prof. Inger Sundstörm Poromaa (University of Uppsala): TBA

Symposium: Sex hormones and gender (identity)

Understanding the effects of sex hormones on the human brain is mandatory to disentangle effects of biological vs. social sex. This is of course of particular importance for individuals suffering from gender dysphoria who in their own experience have been born in a body of the wrong sex. Studying effects of cross-sex hormonal therapy in gender dysphoric individuals offers unique insights into how sex hormones affect brain structure/function and behavior in humans.


Dr. Bastian Amend (University of Tübingen): Gender reassignment surgery in gender dysphoria

Prof. Dr. Fotis Papadopoulus (University of Uppsala): Gender dysphoria from a psychiatrist’s perspective



Poster presentations are not mandatory but highly encouraged! Posters will be discussed at a Poster Blitz and an additional poster session.

How to register

Registration requires your contact data and an abstract of your poster if you want to present it during Poster Blitz and Poster Session. Please register via e-mail to by October 31st, 2017.

–––Update: Registration deadline extended to November 17th, 2017!–––

Participation Fee

Your participation fee includes covers registration, day-time snacks at the venue and your ticket to the dinner party.

  • €50 for PhD students
  • €100 for postdoctoral fellows and professors

The fee should be paid upon registration to “Universitätsklinikum Tübingen“, IBAN: DE41600501017477503793, BIC: SOLADEST600.

Winter School "Sex Hormones & the Brain" is also financially supported by the Rectorate of the University of Tübingen and Universitätsbund Tübingen e.V.


• University Clinic Tübingen
• University of Uppsala

Contact: Prof. Dr. Birgit Derntl, Prof. Dr. Manfred Hallschmid



Location: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tübingen
  • University of Tübingen
  • University Hospital Tübingen
  • Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience
Contact: Prof. Dr. Birgit Derntl