Menstrual cycle affects memory

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It’s been suggested that women are good at giving directions than men. Sometimes women’s memory works differently according to their phase of menstrual cycle. This causes scientists to wonder whether estrogen and progesterone affecting memory and problem solving.

New research shows that estrogen and progesterone may cause the brain to favor one memory system or strategy over another. This new research is done by scientists from Concordia University in Montreal.

This study shows, hormonal changes during menstrual cycle have a broader impact than previously believed. It causes some significant effects on how women approach and solve problems.

Scientists involved 45 women with regular menstrual cycles. First, participants were asked for a “hormonal profile” questionnaire. Through this, scientists gather detail information about their periods, past pregnancies, contraceptive and synthetic hormone intake history and general life habits. After that, participants were instructed for verbal memory task and virtual navigation task as well. At last, they interrogated on how they solved the tasks from beginning to end.

Thus, the result came out as women who were ovulating performed better on the verbal memory task. Additionally, women tested in their pre-menstrual phase were better at solving spatial navigation tasks. That means women used different strategies to solve tasks depending on the phase of their menstrual cycle.

Wayne Brake, co-author said, “This is important scientifically. We and others have previously shown that the levels of estrogen and progesterone in rodents influence different brain regions. It affects various memory systems involved in task-solving. For example, when estrogen levels are high, female rats will use one type of memory system or strategy versus another to solve a maze. This is the first study to show that this is also true for women, who solve tasks in different ways based on their hormones.”

Generally, scientists use male rats in their study to create drug and treatments for people. But, Dema Hussain, the study’s lead author said, “we came to know that women respond differently than men.”

“The study needs more research to deepen our understanding of the female brain. Those efforts must develop to tailor future research to improve our understanding of the effects of female sex hormones on cognition and memory,” she added.


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