Oral contraceptive therapy modulates hemispheric asymmetry in spatial attention

4th Unit of Gynecology and Obstetrics-Dipartmento Ginecologia Ostetricia Neonatologia-Aldo Moro University of Bari Medical School, 70124 Bari, Italy.
Contraception (Impact Factor: 2.34). 12/2011; 84(6):634-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.contraception.2011.03.016
Source: PubMed


Functional cerebral asymmetries (FCAs) are known to fluctuate across the menstrual cycle. The visual line-bisection task administered to normally cycling women showed different patterns of the interhemispheric interactions during menses and the midluteal cycle phase. However, the contribution of estrogens and progestins hormones to this phenomenon is still unclear.
The aim of our study was to show a variation of FCAs in women administered oral contraceptives (OCs) using the visual line-bisection task. Visual line-bisection task with three horizontal lines was administered to 36 healthy women taking a 21-day OC. Twenty-nine patients were right handed. The task was administered during OC intake (day 10) and at the end of the pill-free period.
The right-handed women showed a significant leftward bias of veridical center on the first and third lines during OC intake compared with an opposite rightward bias during the pill-free period. The same phenomenon of contralateral deviation was observed in left-handed women on day 10 of OC intake.
The results of this study confirm a hormonal modulation on interhemispheric interaction and suggest that OCs may improve the interhemispheric interaction reducing FCAs compared with the low hormone level period. This opens new insights in OC prescription and choice of administration schedule in order to improve cognitive performances.

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    • "As demonstrated by Hausmann [12], there is a more pronounced leftward bias in women compared to men, with evident differences during the midluteal and menses, indicating that the interhemispheric communication is hormone-related. In a previous study we demonstrated that hormonal supplementation, by means of oral contraceptive therapy, can influence bisection line performance in women, with less hand-use effect during treatment [13]. Our results confirmed that female hormones may promote an efficient interhemispheric communication between the RH, which dominates visuospatial attention, and the LH, which mainly controls the right-hand response. "
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    ABSTRACT: Sex hormonal variations have been shown to affect functional cerebral asymmetries in cognitive domains, contributing to sex-related differences in functional cerebral organization. The aim of this study was to investigate spatial attention by means of a bisection line test and computer-supported attention task during the menstrual cycle in healthy women compared to men, in basal condition and under Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) of the left parietal cortex. Women were studied during the menses, follicular and luteal phases, ascertained by transvaginal ultrasounds. In basal conditions, women showed a clear deviation toward the right in the bisection line test during the menstrual phase, similarly to men. The midpoint recognition in the computer-supported attention task was not influenced by the menstrual cycle for women, while men showed a significant increase in errors toward the left side. The anodal activation of the left parietal cortex did not affect the line bisection task, while in men it reduced the total amount of errors in midpoint recognition observed in the computer supported attention task. The hand-use effect demonstrated by the bisection-line test could be influenced by estrogen fluctuations, while the right hemisphere prevalence in spatial attention appears to be gender-related and scarcely influenced by the menstrual cycle. The left parietal cortex seems to exert a scarce effect on hand-use effect, while its activation is able to revert sex related right hemisphere supremacy.
    Neuroscience Letters 05/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.neulet.2014.05.014 · 2.03 Impact Factor
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    • "For human studies, examinations often occurred shortly after pregnancy or parturition while lacking further examinations of the long-term effects months or years after parturition and motherhood were completed. Another possible reason that could account for the inconsistency in the reproductive experience impact on cognitive function between human and rodents is whether birth control pills were used by the non-pregnant control subjects in human studies, as females taking oral contraceptives showed improvement of cognitive performance [33]. These discrepancies in findings of cognitive function between human and animal studies may also be related to the difference in level and change patterns of sex hormones during pregnancy, as well as very different social and living environments between humans and animals [34] [35]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Women experience dramatic changes in hormones, mood, and cognition through different periods of their reproductive lives, particularly during pregnancy and giving birth. While limited human studies of early pregnancy and motherhood showed alteration of cognitive function in later life, research conducted on rodents showed a persistent improvement of learning and memory performance in females with history of giving birth (primiparous or multiparous) compared to virgin controls (nulliparous). In this mini review, we will focus on the effect of early motherhood on cognitive function later in life, which would provide insight on how reproductive experiences influence women's health during aging.
    Journal of Alzheimer's disease: JAD 12/2012; 34(3). DOI:10.3233/JAD-122101 · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To investigate the relationships between pharmacologically induced deprivation of dihydrotestosterone, sexual arousal, libido and hand preference, by comparing the self-reported sexual response prior to and during reception of the anti-androgen finasteride in men undergoing treatment for male pattern baldness. Patients and method: In total, 33 sexually healthy Romanian men participated in this study. Patients prospectively provided information regarding their sexual functioning (over 4 weeks), as measured by the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) prior to and after commencing treatment with 1 mg finasteride for male pattern baldness. Results: Overall IIEF scores as well as the erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire and overall satisfaction subscales showed group, treatment and group by treatment effects. The intercourse satisfaction subscale showed group and group by treatment effects. On most subscales, right-handed men showed no effect or lower sexual function whereas left-handed men reported no effect or improved sexual function, primarily. Conclusions: These results suggest that the sexual effects of dihydrotestosterone deprivation may depend on handedness--a proxy variable that may represent cognitive style--which lends further support to the idea of two distinct neuroendocrine psychosexual axes. They further suggest that detection of such sexual effects may be enhanced by using research methodologies and communication strategies that increase patients' sensitization to such effects.
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