Jeffrey Blaustein, psychological and brain sciences

Professor of psychological and brain sciences

Phone: (o) 413-545-1524


Jeffrey Blaustein studies the ways that hormones, and particularly the ovarian hormones estradiol and progesterone, act in the brain to modify brain function and behavior, and how the environment can influences these processes.

His current work focuses on the mechanisms by which these particular stressors around the time of puberty can cause enduring changes in response to sex steroid hormones during adulthood. We speculate that similar processes may underlie mental health problems in adults, who have been exposed to adverse situations (e.g., maltreatment, abuse) during pubertal development.

Blaustein can also discuss estrogen blockers, brain function and mental health after breast cancer surgery, teaching breast cancer survivors and oncologists about the importance of ovarian hormones in mental health and quality of life.

“After women have surgery for breast cancer, oncologists typically prescribe drugs to halt the production or effects of the sex hormones, estrogens, in order to decrease the risk of the cancer returning,” he says. “However, estrogens have many positive effects on the brain: they improve mood, thinking, sexual desire, and they slow the effects of aging. So interfering with these effects may have a large effect on a woman’s quality of life after surgery. Unfortunately, oncologists typically do not educate women about these negative side effects. And they often prescribe these regardless of the risk of the tumor returning – which sometimes is very small – and without explaining the negative impacts of these drugs. Physicians must better educate women on the benefits and risks of particular decisions that they make regarding the use of hormone therapy after surgery.”