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Wayne State University scientists identify neural origins of hot flashes in menopausal women

July 15, 2013

A new study from neuroscientists at the Wayne State University School of Medicine provides the first novel insights into the neural origins of hot flashes in menopausal women in years. The study may inform and eventually lead to new treatments for those who experience the sudden but temporary episodes of body warmth, flushing and sweating. The paper, "Temporal Sequencing of Brain Activations During Naturally Occurring Thermoregulatory Events," by Robert Freedman, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, founder of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory and a member at the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, and his collaborator, Vaibhav Diwadkar, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, appears in the June issue of Cerebral Cortex, an Oxford University Press journal. "The idea of understanding brain responses during thermoregulatory events has spawned many studies where thermal stimuli were applied to the skin. But hot flashes are unique because they are internally generated, so studying them presents unique challenges," said Freedman, the study's principal investigator. "Our participants had to lie in the MRI scanner while being heated between two body-size heating pads for up to two hours while we waited for the onset of a hot flash. They were heroic in this regard and the study could not have been conducted without their incredible level of cooperation."