This article is part of a Special Issue "Estradiol and Cognition". Memory processing is presumed to depend on synaptic plasticity, which appears to have a role in mediating the acquisition, consolidation, and retention of memory. We have studied the relationship between estrogen, recognition memory, and dendritic spine density in the hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex, areas critical for memory, across the lifespan in female rodents. The present paper reviews the literature on dendritic spine plasticity in mediating both short and long term memory, as well as the decreased memory that occurs with aging and Alzheimer's disease. It also addresses the role of acute and chronic estrogen treatments in these processes.
School of Medicine