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Climacteric. 2006 Jun;9(3):181-94.

No differences in performance on test of working memory and executive functioning between healthy elderly postmenopausal women using or not using hormone therapy.

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Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.



On average, ovarian function ceases at the age of 52 years so that estrogen (E) levels are chronically low following the menopause. Numerous studies have found that hormone therapy (HT) helps to protect verbal memory, a hippocampal function. Estrogen receptors are also found in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), suggesting that estrogen may modulate executive and working memory functions, both mediated by the PFC. The possible role of progesterone (P) on executive functions and working memory is unknown.


To examine the relationship between neuropsychological performance, age of initiation of HT, and duration of HT use.


In this cross-sectional study, the neuropsychological performance of 37 postmenopausal women (mean age, 65 years) who used either estrogen-only or sequential E + P (E-alone group)(n = 22) or E + P continuously (n = 15) was compared to that of 28 healthy postmenopausal women matched for age and education who had never used HT. It was hypothesized that the E-only users would perform better then the E + P and the never-users on neuropsychological tests of verbal memory, executive function and working memory.


Results showed only minor between-group differences on working memory scores such that the E + P users were slowest to generate a response on the N-Back test of working memory. No group differences on tests of executive functions were found.


There was no relationship between neuropsychological performance, age of initiation of HT, or duration of HT use.

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