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Effects of the menstrual cycle on mood, neurocognitive and neuroendocrine function in healthy premenopausal women

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter GallagherORCiD, Jill Thompson, Professor Allan Young


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Background. Neurocognitive functioning may be impaired in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle due to associated changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. This study examines the relationship between changes in neurocognition and HPA axis function in different phases of the menstrual cycle. Method. Fifteen female volunteers, free from psychiatric history and hormonal medication were tested twice, during mid-follicular and late-luteal phases in a randomized, crossover design. Mood, neurocognitive function, and basal cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were profiled. Results. Relative to the follicular phase, verbal fluency was impaired in the luteal phase and reaction times speeded on a continuous performance task, without affecting overall accuracy. 'Hedonic' scores on the UWIST-MACL scale were decreased in the luteal phase. There was also evidence of changes in the function of the HPA axis, with 24 h urinary cortisol concentrations and salivary DHEA levels being significantly lower during the luteal phase. Conclusions. These data suggest that luteal phase HPA axis function is lower than in the follicular phase in premenopausal healthy women. This putative biological difference may be important for our understanding of the aetiopathogenesis of menstrually related mood change and neurocognitive disturbance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Symonds CS, Gallagher P, Thompson JM, Young AH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychological Medicine

Year: 2004

Volume: 34

Issue: 1

Pages: 93-102

ISSN (print): 0033-2917

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8978

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0033291703008535

PubMed id: 14971630


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