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Gynecol Obstet Invest. 1999;47(1):29-36.

Memory functioning at menopause: impact of age in ovariectomized women.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, IRCCS S. Matteo, IRCCS Mondino, University Center of Adaptive Disorders and Headache, University of Pavia, Italy.


Estrogens are known to act selectively on some components of memory, exerting beneficial effects on cognitive performances. However, there are few data on the long-term effect of the lack of estrogen in postmenopausal women. Therefore, we investigated attentive and verbal memory performances in physiological and surgical menopause, drawing attention to the impact of age at menopause, and we compared a well-known aging and estrogen-dependent index, the entity of bone mass loss to memory functioning. No significant differences were found in the mean scores of attentive and psychomotor performances between physiological and surgical menopause, whereas a lower number of recalled words (recency effect = PS2) was found in surgical menopause (p < 0.001) in comparison to physiological menopause. In addition, both the age at the time of ovariectomy (r = 0.47; p = 0. 014) and the years since surgery (r = -0.64; p = 0.000) correlated to short-term verbal memory performance (PS2) with better scores when surgery occurred later in women's lives. Surgical menopause is able to affect short-term verbal memory more than physiological menopause and seems to represent a critical negative event within the female brain, in particular when it occurs prematurely.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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