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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Nov;91(11):4476-81. Epub 2006 Aug 15.

Impact of combined estradiol and norethindrone therapy on visuospatial working memory assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan Health Systems, Women's Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0276, USA. ysmith@umich.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Hormones regulate neuronal function in brain regions critical to cognition; however, the cognitive effects of postmenopausal hormone therapy are controversial.

OBJECTIVE:

The goal was to evaluate the effect of postmenopausal hormone therapy on neural circuitry involved in spatial working memory.

DESIGN:

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study was performed.

SETTING:

The study was performed in a tertiary care university medical center.

PARTICIPANTS:

Ten healthy postmenopausal women of average age 56.9 yr were recruited.

INTERVENTIONS:

Volunteers were randomized to the order they received hormone therapy (5 microg ethinyl estradiol and 1 mg norethindrone acetate). Subjects received hormone therapy or placebo for 4 wk, followed by a 1-month washout period with no medications, and then received the other treatment for 4 wk. At the end of each 4-wk treatment period, a functional magnetic resonance imaging study was performed using a nonverbal (spatial) working memory task, the Visual Delayed Matching to Sample task.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

The effects of hormone therapy on brain activation patterns were compared with placebo.

RESULTS:

Compared with the placebo condition, hormone therapy was associated with a more pronounced activation in the prefrontal cortex (BA 44 and 45), bilaterally (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Hormone therapy was associated with more effective activation of a brain region critical in primary visual working memory tasks. The data suggest a functional plasticity of memory systems in older women that can be altered by hormones.

PMID:
16912129
PMCID:
PMC1861832
DOI:
10.1210/jc.2006-0907
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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