Julie Dumas

Julie Dumas

Research Associate Professor, Psychiatry
Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit

Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2002
M.A. Cognitive Psychology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1999
B.A., Psychology
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA


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The brain is a major target for circulating gonadal steroids and the change in hormone levels after menopause is likely to have implications for cognitive functioning. A number of clinical and preclinical studies have linked gonadal steroids and cognition and it has been hypothesized that menopause has detrimental effects on cognition that are over and above the expected effects of normal aging. However, evidence for changes in cognition after menopause is equivocal. Some studies found that cognitive performance decreased in domains such as memory, attention, problem solving, and motor skills from pre-menopausal. Other studies have not found changes in cognition after menopause. With the relatively slow change in hormone levels during natural menopause, the brain may adapt to the changing hormonal environment. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this adaptation is important for understanding how menopause impairs cognition in some women.

The Dumas Lab combines psychopharmacology and functional imaging to study cognition before and after menopause. Recent projects have used cholinergic and dopaminergic medications in combination with estrogen treatment in postmenopausal women to understand how estrogen interacted with these neurotransmitter systems to affect cognition. We also use fMRI to compare neural activation during medication challenge to placebo. Recently we have begun to examine COMT genotype effects in response to dopaminergic challenge as well as on brain activation in postmenopausal women.

Through our research studies we hope to further the understanding of neurotransmitter-based mechanisms involved in and responsible for successful adaptation of the brain to the hormonal change at menopause. Additionally, the results from these studies may inform the development of therapeutic strategies for prevention and intervention of cognitive decline.

Selected Publications

Peng, S.-L., Dumas, J.A., Park, D.C., Liu, P., Filbey, F.M., McAdams, C.J., Pinkham, A.E., Adinoff, B., Zhang, R., Lu, H. (2014). Age-related increase of resting metabolic rate in the human brain. Neuroimage, 96:176-183. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Lomond, K.V., Henry, S.M., Jacobs, J.V., Hitt, J.R., Horak, F.B., Cohen, R.G., Schwartz, D., Dumas, J.A., Naylor, M.R., Watts, R. and DeSarno, M.J. (2013). Protocol to assess the neurophysiology associated with multi-segmental postural coordination. Physiological Measurement, 34, N97-N105. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Seminowicz, D.A., Shpaner, M., Keaser, M.L., Krauthamer, G.M.*, Mantegna, J., Dumas, J.A., Newhouse, P.A., Filippi, C., & Naylor, M.R. (2013). Cognitive behavioral therapy increases prefrontal cortex gray matter in patients with chronic pain. Journal of Pain, 14(12):1573-1584. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas. J.A., Makarewicz, J., Schaubhut, G.L.*, Devins, R., Albert, K.*, Dittus, K. & Newhouse, P.A. (2013). Chemotherapy Altered Brain Functional Connectivity in Women with Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 7(4): 524-532. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Newhouse, P.A, Albert, K.M.*, Astur, R., Johnson, J., Naylor, M.R., & Dumas, J.A. (2013). Tamoxifen Improves Cholinergically-Modulated Cognitive Performance in Postmenopausal Women. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(13):2632-2643. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Kien, C.L., Bunn, J.Y., Tompkins, C.L., Dumas, J.A., Crain, K.I., Ebenstein, D.B., Koves, T.R., & Muoio, D.M. (2013). Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97, 689-697. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A., Kutz, A.M. *, McDonald, B.C., Naylor, M.R., Pfaff, A.C., Saykin, A.J., & Newhouse, P.A. (2013). Increased Working Memory-Related Brain Activity in Middle-Aged Women with Cognitive Complaints. Neurobiology of Aging, 34, 1145-1147. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Cannizzaro, M.S., Dumas, J., Prelock, P., & Newhouse, P.A. (2012). Organizational Structure Reduces Processing Load in the Prefrontal Cortex During Discourse Processing of Written Text: Implications for High-Level Reading Issues After TBI. Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, 22(2), 67-78. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A., Kutz, A.M.*, Naylor, M.R., Johnson, J.V., & Newhouse, P.A. (2012). Estradiol altered anticholinergic brain activity during working memory in postmenopausal women. Neuroimage, 60, 1394-1403. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A., Albert, K.M.*, Naylor, M.R., Sites, C.K, Benkelfat, C., & Newhouse, P.A. (2012). The effects of age and estrogen on stress responsivity in older women. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 20(9):734-743. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Newhouse, P.A., Potter, A.S., Dumas, J.A., & Thiel, C.M. (2011). Functional brain imaging of nicotinic effects on higher cognitive processes. Biochemical Pharmacology, 82, 943-951. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A. & Newhouse, P.A. (2011). The cholinergic hypothesis of cognitive aging revisited again: Cholinergic functional compensation. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 99, 254-261. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A., Kutz, A.M.*, Naylor, M.R., Johnson, J.V., & Newhouse, P.A. (2010). Increased memory load-related frontal activation after estradiol treatment in postmenopausal women. Hormones and Behavior, 58, 929-935. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Dumas, J.A., McDonald, B.C., Saykin, A.J., McAllister, T.W., West, J.D., Hynes, M.L., & Newhouse, P.A. (2010). Cholinergic modulation of hippocampal activity during episodic memory encoding in postmenopausal women: A pilot study. Menopause, 17(4), 852-859. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Newhouse, P.A., Dumas, J.A., Wilkins, H.*, Coderre, E.*, Sites, C., Naylor, M.R., Benkelfat, C., & Young, S.N. (2010). Estrogen treatment impairs cognitive performance following psychosocial stress and monoamine depletion in postmenopausal women. Menopause, 17(4), 860-873. (Abstract) (Full Text)

Publications via PubMed