Journal of Psychology and Cognition

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Research Article - Journal of Psychology and Cognition (2019) Volume 4, Issue 3

Cognitive performance across the menstrual cycle

Previous studies have demonstrated that ovarian hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, affect cognitive performance. Higher levels of ovarian hormones have been shown to be positively associated with better performance in tasks that typically show female superiority, whereas lower levels have been found to be associated with better performance on tasks usually showing male superiority. The aim of the present study was to analyze the modulation effect of the menstrual cycle on various cognitive abilities. Thirty women with a typical menstrual cycle completed a cognitive battery that consisted of four cognitive tasks: Mental Rotation, the Water-Level test, Verbal Fluency, and Digit Span. The battery was completed at two time points – during the early follicular phase and during the ovulatory cycle phase. Results showed a significant cycle effect for mental rotation scores, such that women’s scores were higher during the early follicular phase (under lower levels of estrogen) and lower during the ovulatory cycle phase (under higher levels of estrogen). Furthermore, a significant cycle effect for verbal fluency was found, such that scores were higher during the ovulatory cycle phase (under higher levels of estrogen) and lower in the early follicular phase (under lower levels of estrogen). No significant cycle effects were found for the Water-Level test or for the Digit Span task. The findings suggest that sex hormones, as reflected by menstrual cycle phase, selectively modulate cognitive performance.

Author(s): Efrat Barel*, Maayan Krispil, Inbar Yaari

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