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The Role of Estrogens in Cognition: Does Prophylactic Oophorectomy Affect Verbal, Spatial and Working Memory?

Studies of non-human animals have shown that estrogens have a significant effect on the structure and neurochemistry of the brain and on cognitive behaviours. This study examines women with BRCA1/2 mutations who have undergone bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO), resulting in surgical menopause. In order to understand how the absence of endogenous estrogens affects cognition, women with BSO are compared to women with BRCA1/2 mutations but without BSO, as well as age-matched controls on tests of verbal, spatial and working memory. Women with BSO show decreased verbal memory and attention (logical memory) relative to controls but better performance on a measure of temporal lobe function (fluency clustering). Further, concentration of estrogen metabolites (E1G) negatively correlated with performance on a spatial memory task (object placement task) and with fluency clustering. These results indicate that endogenous estrogens are important for verbal memory and attention, but may contribute negatively to spatial memory and fluency clustering.
Date11 January 2011
CreatorsSchwartz, Deborah
ContributorsEinstein, Gillian
Source SetsUniversity of Toronto
Detected LanguageEnglish

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