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Behav Neurosci. 2000 Dec;114(6):1245-50.

Sex hormones affect spatial abilities during the menstrual cycle.

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Biopsychologie, Fakultät für Psychologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.


The aim of this study was (a) to show that different measures of spatial cognition are modulated by the menstrual cycle and (b) to analyze which steroid is responsible for these cognitive alterations. The authors collected blood samples in 3-day intervals over 6 weeks from 12 young women with a regular menstrual cycle to analyze concentrations of estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. The performance on 3 spatial tests was measured during the menstrual and the midluteal phases. A significant cycle difference in spatial ability as tested by the Mental Rotation Test was found, with high scores during the menstrual phase and low scores during the midluteal phase. Testosterone had a strong and positive influence on mental rotation performance, whereas estradiol had a negative one. These results clearly indicate that testosterone and estradiol are able to modulate spatial cognition during the menstrual cycle.

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