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Brain Cogn. 2012 Jun;79(1):34-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Mar 3.

Menstrual cycle-related changes of functional cerebral asymmetries in fine motor coordination.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Durham University, United Kingdom.


Fluctuating sex hormone levels during the menstrual cycle have been shown to affect functional cerebral asymmetries in cognitive domains. These effects seem to result from the neuromodulatory properties of sex hormones and their metabolites on interhemispheric processing. The present study was carried out to investigate whether functional cerebral asymmetries in fine motor coordination as reflected by manual asymmetries are also susceptible to natural sex hormonal variations during the menstrual cycle. Sixteen right-handed women with a regular menstrual cycle performed a finger tapping paradigm consisting of two conditions (simple, sequential) during the low hormone menstrual phase and the high estrogen and progesterone luteal phase. To validate the luteal phase, saliva levels of free progesterone (P) were analysed using chemiluminescence assays. As expected, normally cycling women showed a substantial decrease in manual asymmetries in a more demanding sequential tapping condition involving four fingers compared with simple (repetitive) finger tapping. This reduction in the degree of dominant (right) hand manual asymmetries was evident during the luteal phase. During the menstrual phase, however, manual asymmetries were even reversed in direction, indicating a slight advantage in favour of the non-dominant (left) hand. These findings suggest that functional cerebral asymmetries in fine motor coordination are affected by sex hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, probably via hormonal modulations of interhemispheric interaction.

© 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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