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Maturitas. 2012 Feb;71(2):173-9. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.11.025. Epub 2011 Dec 23.

The association of serum oestradiol level, age, and education with cognitive performance in peri- and late postmenopausal women.

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Department of Physiology (Sleep Research Unit), University of Turku, Turku, Finland.



To evaluate whether healthy women show cognitive changes after menopause and whether the possible changes are oestrogen-, age- or education-dependent.


Forty-eight women, 21 perimenopausal (aged 43-51 years) and 27 late postmenopausal (aged 59-71 years), participated in the study. Verbal and visuomotor functions, visuoconstructive skills, visual and verbal episodic memory as well as attention were evaluated.


Perimenopausal women performed better than postmenopausal women. Serum oestradiol (E(2)) level was included in the model in perimenopausal women only given the lack of endogenous oestrogen in postmenopausal women who were also not using hormone therapy (HT). In perimenopausal women, lower E(2) was associated with better visual episodic memory (p<.05), and older age was related to poorer verbal episodic memory (p<.05). In postmenopausal women, more education was associated with better performance in verbal and visuomotor functions, attention as well as verbal episodic memory (p<.05), older age was related to poorer performance in the visuoconstructive test and visual episodic memory (p<.05).


Perimenopausal women had better cognitive performance compared to late postmenopausal women. In perimenopausal women the effect of E(2) was minor. In both groups, age modified cognitive performance, but more so in postmenopausal women. Education did not have any effect on cognitive performance in perimenopausal women, whereas in postmenopausal women education exceeded age as a source of variation. Thus the relevance of education for better cognition was accentuated after menopause.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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