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Human Growth Hormone and Brain Function

Written by Author - Authors Medical experts of the National HRT Clinic - April 28, 2016

Brain Function and HGHPerhaps the most significant research being done in the past decade is that of HGH and brain function. At the time of this writing, science has identified over 600 neurological diseases. If human growth hormone could factor into even a few of them, it would be a tremendous leap forward in medical advancements. The good news is that yes, there is an HGH brain health connection – one that is already producing significant benefits for many people.

The human brain is a complex machine – it controls every function in the body through a variety of mechanisms. The central nervous system (CNS) and endocrine system carry out many of these functions via synapses and chemical signals (hormones).

Many people refer to HGH as the body’s “master hormone” for all that it accomplishes. No other hormone takes part in as many functions as human growth hormone. The role of HGH in brain health and function cannot be understated as the brain is home to an abundant supply of growth hormone receptors.

What are HGH receptors?

Each hormone in the body has specific receptor cells that only it can bind with. Once that binding takes place, it signals an action inside the cell dependent on the hormone involved. No other hormone can stimulate that same response. Without hormonal binding, the receptor cells sit dormant, unable to carry out their functions.

Because HGH influences brain growth hormone receptors that stimulate focus, learning, memory, and emotions, each of these areas will suffer when a person has growth hormone deficiency.

Significant research into HGH and brain function shows us that growth hormone receptors in the brain require adequate HGH to carry out their actions.

Brain Anatomy and Function

The human adult brain, weighing in at approximately three pounds, consists of the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brainstem. As we begin our exploration of HGH and brain function, we start with the cerebrum – the top and primary part of the human brain.

The cerebrum is split in half by a deep furrow that divides it into right and left hemispheres. In each hemisphere you will find multiple lobes that carry out the movements and functions of the body. HGH can cross the blood/brain barrier to bind with growth hormone receptors in these lobes.

Each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body, with lobes in the right hemisphere influencing left side movements, and vice versa. If you suffer a tumor or injury to the right side of the head, you may have problems with movement, hearing, touch/sensory, or sight on the left side of your body.

The two hemispheres also control different actions, as shown in the chart below:

Right Hemisphere Left Hemisphere
Artistic skills Arithmetic
Creativity Comprehension
Musical skills Language
Spatial skills Speech
Nonverbal actions Writing

Here are some essential facts about the lobes and how HGH and the brain are connected

Frontal Lobes – located in the anterior brain region beneath the forehead, regulating:

  • Behavior
  • Body movement
  • Concentration
  • Emotions
  • Intelligence
  • Judgment
  • Personality
  • Planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Reasoning
  • Self-awareness
  • Speech
  • Writing

Parietal Lobes – located in the rear, top of the brain above the ears, regulating:

  • Interpretation of words and language – influencing reading and writing
  • Interpretation of sensory signals such as sight, sound, memory, and motor skills
  • Movement
  • Recognition
  • Sensory stimuli such as pain, temperature, and touch
  • Spatial and visual orientation and perception

Temporal Lobes – located beneath and behind the frontal lobes on the side of the head above the ears, regulating:

  • Auditory stimuli
  • Comprehension
  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Sequencing and organization
  • Speech

Occipital Lobes – located at the back of the head (posterior), regulating:

  • Interpretation of color, light, and movement
  • Sight
  • Visual processing

No examination of HGH and the brain would be complete without discussing the role of growth hormone in the following areas of the Limbic System which is the emotional brain:

  • Amygdala – growth hormone receptors in this area of the temporal lobe help with emotions, fear, and memory
  • Hippocampus – HGH receptor cells in this medial region of the temporal lobe foster learning, conversion of short-term memory into permanent memory, and recalling spatial relationships
  • Hypothalamus – this gland located ventral to the thalamus is essential for growth hormone as it secretes critical hormones to the pituitary gland necessary for daily activity and hormone secretion (crucial for regulating homeostasis, autonomic nervous system functions, circadian rhythms, emotions, hunger, and thirst)
  • Thalamus – located in the forebrain, much of the brain’s sensory information is processed here through the transmission and receipt of signals by the axons and neurons (including attention and pain sensation)

Many HGH supported brain functions take place in the cerebral lobes.

HGH and the Central Nervous System

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, enclosed within the meninges. Along with the many nerve and brain cells are non-nervous cells call neuroglial cells that fill the interneuronal space. As we further examine the connection between HGH and the brain, we find that the CNS is comprised of white and gray matter, with the white matter consisting of oligodendrocytes and axons and the gray matter featuring unmyelinated fibers and neurons. Supporting glial cells, found in both tissue types, are more abundant in white matter. The neurons in the gray matter analyze the information transmitted by the axons in the white matter.

One area of HGH and brain function to understand is how the ration of gray to white matter changes with age. Human growth hormone supplies the signals necessary to help with the actions of the neurons and axons.

An important fact about HGH is that it stimulates the liver’s production of insulin growth factor 1. Why is this an essential piece of information? IGF-1 is the primary mediator of many HGH functions in the body, including cell regeneration vital for keeping the dendritic pathways of the brain functioning properly.

Although the brain is not a growing organ, it does shrink with age. Human growth hormone can help protect not only that shrinkage but also apoptosis – early cellular death of brain cells. As we discuss HGH brain growth and the protective benefits of human growth hormone and IGF-1, we find the following features:

  1. HGH increases neurotransmitter concentration in the brain to speed up and enhance brain functions
  2. IGF-1 improves mental functions by increasing dendritic formation of cortical neurons
  3. HGH exerts a positive influence on the glial brain cells that nourish neurons
  4. IGF-1 helps prevent apoptosis (early cellular death)
  5. HGH influences alertness, focus, cognitive abilities, memory, and more through its effects throughout the CNS
  6. IGF-1 helps reverse deficits in dopamine receptors influenced by age
  7. HGH lowers elevated dopamine levels while increasing beta-endorphin levels to improve mood and emotional well-being

HGH directly impacts many functions in the central nervous system.

HGH and Traumatic Brain Injury

An area of recent, yet extensive and ongoing research is that of HGH brain benefits for victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI). One of the essential features of HGH is its neuroprotective properties. HGH increases a process called neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells.

The connection between HGH and brain function is crucial for patients with TBI which can impair brain functions anywhere from mild to extreme. As many as 20% or more of patients with TBI may also have HGH deficiency. In one study of individuals with traumatic brain injury, HGH brought the following improvements:

  • Improved cognitive processing speed
  • Better dominant hand motor speed in finger tapping
  • Significant memory and verbal learning improvements
  • Enhanced quality of life

Another benefit of HGH therapy for TBI is a decline in feelings of depression often associated with brain injury as well as growth hormone deficiency.

HGH therapy can improve both brain functions and emotional state in patients with traumatic brain injury.

HGH and Opioid Brain Damage

The worldwide opioid crisis has reached an all-time high. It is especially problematic in the US. A study out of Sweden demonstrated that HGH plays a role in salvaging brain cells targeted for early death due to opioid use.

Opiates destroy brain cells and interfere with neurogenesis. Brain cells targeted for apoptosis do not have a ready supply of new cells to take their place. As this cellular death of critical brain cells occurs, cognitive functions and memory begin to decline.

With increased levels of HGH, brain cells once again benefit from improved neurogenesis. Opioid usage also results in depression, insomnia, and impaired cognitive and physical functioning.

Patients who have received long-term opioid treatment for chronic non-cancer pain are at an increased risk of cognitive decline. A benefit of boosting the levels of HGH and brain function is that it can reverse morphine-induced apoptosis.

HGH may help improve brain functions following opioid damage.

HGH, Memory, and Brain Diseases

One of the biggest concerns for most people as they age is dementia. It may begin as simply as forgetting why you entered the room, but in advanced stages of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, a person may no longer recognize his or her loved ones. Memory loss is often harder for those caring for the patient, as it takes a toll both physically and emotionally.

Ongoing research into HGH and brain function for various neurological diseases and disorders includes MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s disease. Human growth hormone is neuroprotective. In addition to increasing neurogenesis, we also find the following benefits associated with HGH brain health:

  • HGH helps eliminate protease-activating free radicals associated with many neurogenerative diseases
  • Human growth hormone helps renew dendritic connections for neuronal communication
  • HGH helps reduce apoptosis and early brain cell death
  • In a cellular and animal study of ALS, HGH demonstrated an ability to potentially slow or reverse upper and lower motor neuron progressive degeneration
  • HGH plays crucial roles in myelination (the sheath around nerve cells) and synaptogenesis (formation of synapses)
  • Human growth hormone regulates neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation

With ongoing research about the benefits of HGH, brain disease may find a suitable foe – one ready to take on the decline of brain functions to improve the quality of life for many individuals.

In one study of mice with ALS, HGH administration resulted in weight loss, improved motor performance, and better life span compared to the control group treated with saline. HGH also prevented astrogliosis and motoneuronal loss.

Ongoing research may help shed new light on using HGH to treat a multitude of neurodegenerative conditions.

HGH and Cognitive Functions

These many HGH brain benefits have a role in your daily life. Putting aside TBI, dementia, opioid damage, and other degenerative brain conditions, human growth hormone is vital for normal cognitive functions.

Whether you suffer from minor forgetfulness, lack of drive, or an inability to concentrate, HGH therapy may help improve your brain functions.

Adults diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency who subsequently receive treatment typically report the following benefits of HGH and brain function:

  • Better focus
  • Sharper memory
  • Longer concentration
  • Increased drive
  • Improved spatial recognition and processing
  • Easier ability to learn and retain new information
  • Faster mental calculations
  • Better motivation
  • Improved productivity and performance

HGH can help improve daily mental functions in adults.

HGH and Emotional Well-Being

A final look at HGH and brain function focuses on emotional well-being. The older we get it seems the less we sleep. Loss of sleep is a critical factor for growth hormone production as slow-wave sleep is when most of the daily allotment of HGH enters the bloodstream. If you get anything less than seven hours of quality sleep, you are likely at a deficit for growth hormone production.

Because low HGH levels also impact sleep, you find yourself on a vicious cycle. When you are tired, your emotions tend to suffer. Because HGH acts on the brain like an anti-depressant by raising neurotransmitter B-endorphin levels, a decline in growth hormone secretion can increase dopamine and lower endorphins. The result is feelings of agitation and stress, which also increases cortisol secretion. Cortisol is the stress hormone that inhibits both sleep and HGH production.

It should come as no surprise that adults with growth hormone deficiency often report depression, mood swings, and poor quality of life.

Benefits of increasing HGH brain health include:

  • Decreased feelings of depression
  • Fewer mood swings
  • Happier thoughts
  • Deeper sleep
  • Better outlook for the future
  • Increased sense of humor
  • Emotional well-being
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced stress and anxiety

For further information about HGH and how it impacts the brain, please contact National HRT for a free consultation.

Medically reviewed by   Reviewers National HRT Staff - Updated on July 9, 2019

Please note that the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.


  1. Growth hormone in the brain: characteristics of specific brain targets for the hormone and their functional significance.Nyberg F Front Neuroendocrinol. 2000 Oct;21(4):330-48.