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Lack of Associations between Female Hormone Levels and Visuospatial Working Memory, Divided Attention and Cognitive Bias across Two Consecutive Menstrual Cycles


Leeners, Brigitte; Kruger, Tillmann H C; Geraedts, Kirsten; Tronci, Enrico; Mancini, Toni; Ille, Fabian; Egli, Marcel; Röblitz, Susanna; Saleh, Lanja; Spanaus, Katharina; Schippert, Cordula; Zhang, Yuangyuang; Hengartner, Michael P (2017). Lack of Associations between Female Hormone Levels and Visuospatial Working Memory, Divided Attention and Cognitive Bias across Two Consecutive Menstrual Cycles. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience:11:120.

Abstract

Background: Interpretation of observational studies on associations between prefrontal cognitive functioning and hormone levels across the female menstrual cycle is complicated due to small sample sizes and poor replicability. Methods: This observational multisite study comprised data of n = 88 menstruating women from Hannover, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland, assessed during a first cycle and n = 68 re-assessed during a second cycle to rule out practice effects and false-positive chance findings. We assessed visuospatial working memory, attention, cognitive bias and hormone levels at four consecutive time-points across both cycles. In addition to inter-individual differences we examined intra-individual change over time (i.e., within-subject effects). Results: Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone did not relate to inter-individual differences in cognitive functioning. There was a significant negative association between intra-individual change in progesterone and change in working memory from pre-ovulatory to mid-luteal phase during the first cycle, but that association did not replicate in the second cycle. Intra-individual change in testosterone related negatively to change in cognitive bias from menstrual to pre-ovulatory as well as from pre-ovulatory to mid-luteal phase in the first cycle, but these associations did not replicate in the second cycle. Conclusions: There is no consistent association between women's hormone levels, in particular estrogen and progesterone, and attention, working memory and cognitive bias. That is, anecdotal findings observed during the first cycle did not replicate in the second cycle, suggesting that these are false-positives attributable to random variation and systematic biases such as practice effects. Due to methodological limitations, positive findings in the published literature must be interpreted with reservation.

Abstract

Background: Interpretation of observational studies on associations between prefrontal cognitive functioning and hormone levels across the female menstrual cycle is complicated due to small sample sizes and poor replicability. Methods: This observational multisite study comprised data of n = 88 menstruating women from Hannover, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland, assessed during a first cycle and n = 68 re-assessed during a second cycle to rule out practice effects and false-positive chance findings. We assessed visuospatial working memory, attention, cognitive bias and hormone levels at four consecutive time-points across both cycles. In addition to inter-individual differences we examined intra-individual change over time (i.e., within-subject effects). Results: Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone did not relate to inter-individual differences in cognitive functioning. There was a significant negative association between intra-individual change in progesterone and change in working memory from pre-ovulatory to mid-luteal phase during the first cycle, but that association did not replicate in the second cycle. Intra-individual change in testosterone related negatively to change in cognitive bias from menstrual to pre-ovulatory as well as from pre-ovulatory to mid-luteal phase in the first cycle, but these associations did not replicate in the second cycle. Conclusions: There is no consistent association between women's hormone levels, in particular estrogen and progesterone, and attention, working memory and cognitive bias. That is, anecdotal findings observed during the first cycle did not replicate in the second cycle, suggesting that these are false-positives attributable to random variation and systematic biases such as practice effects. Due to methodological limitations, positive findings in the published literature must be interpreted with reservation.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Clinical Chemistry
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Reproductive Endocrinology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:4 July 2017
Deposited On:02 Feb 2018 12:35
Last Modified:01 Mar 2018 01:56
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1662-5153
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2017.00120
PubMed ID:28725187

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