Effects of the Menstrual Cycle on Working Memory: Comparison of Postmenstrual and Premenstrual Phases

Department of Maternity Nursing and Midwifery, Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2944-9 Megusuno, Oita 870-1201, Japan.
Industrial Health (Impact Factor: 1.12). 08/2008; 46(3):253-60. DOI: 10.2486/indhealth.46.253
Source: PubMed


This study aimed to examine the effects on working memory of the postmenstrual and premenstrual phases. The subjects were 12 female students. Computer-based tasks formulated by the authors, using the working memory that actively retains the information as the index, were used for experiments of 60 min during the premenstrual and postmenstrual phases. Session order was counter-balanced. The results showed that there was a significantly lower error rate for working memory tasks in the premenstrual phase, suggesting that task performance was good. Mild premenstrual symptoms had no effect on working memory function of the premenstrual phase. Further, no clear difference in terms of phase was found for mental workload or change in heart rate variability, which are used to evaluate workload. For this reason, the estrogen sex hormone secreted from the ovaries in relation to the menstrual cycle is thought to be involved in the working memory function rather than the indefinite menstrual complaint.

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    • "This concept has changed dramatically because, during the last decade, an overwhelming amount of literature has accumulated, describing more extensive sex-related differences, at all levels of the brain (Jazin and Cahill, 2010; Cahill, 2012; McCarthy et al., 2012). Moreover, several investigators have reported differences in the female brain as a function of the menstrual cycle, e.g. in implicit memory (Maki et al., 2002), working memory (Konishi et al., 2008) and emotional memory (Andreano et al., 2008; Andreano and Cahill, 2010; Ferree et al., 2011, 2012 Ertman et al., 2011). These findings should not come as a surprise, because the menstrual cycle is governed by a complex endocrine regulation mechanism, involving fluctuations in the concentration of estradiol and progesterone (Boron and Boulpaep, 2005). "
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