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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/1557

Title: Long-term oral contraceptive use in healthy young women: neuropsychological and electrophysiological changes
Authors: Mohn, Kirsten Roman
Keywords: Clinical psychology;Oral contraceptives--Psychological aspects;Hormones
Issue Date: 21-May-2007
Abstract: The literature strongly suggests that sex hormones have an influence on cognition, both through their impact on the morphological development of brain structures and as the result of naturally-occurring or pharmacologically-induced hormonal fluctuation. Little is known about how a popular hormone-altering group of drugs, oral contraceptives, may affect cognitive functioning. Additionally, while hormonal change appears to impact certain cognitive abilities, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. Thus, the goals of this study were to address both how oral contraceptive use might impact the cognitive functioning of young women and to further explore current theories of brain-hormone relationships. Cognitive functioning was assessed in 32 women between the ages of 22 and 33 using a mixed design (group x menstrual cycle phase). Seventeen of the women were regularly menstruating (Non-OC) and 15 of the women had been using combination oral contraceptive medications for 6 months or longer. EEG data were also collected for 14 of these women (6 OC and 7 Non-OC) during the midluteal phase. We hypothesized that Non-OC women would outperform OC women on both verbal and visuospatial tasks (as related to significantly higher levels of estradiol). We also anticipated that verbal performances would be positively correlated with salivary estradiol levels and that visuospatial performances would be positively correlated with salivary testosterone levels. We expected that Non-OC women would demonstrate evidence of selective activation in the left hemisphere as compared to OC women on EEG. Significant between-group differences were found in EEG alph activity, suggesting that Non-OC women have greater overall cortical activation rather than the proposed lateralized effect. It is less clear whether this difference in activation translates into significant changes in overall cognitive functioning. Non-OC women did outperform OC women on visuospatial tasks, consistent with pilot study results. We suspect that these “male-favored” tasks are more susceptible to changes in hormonal milieu. There was little evidence for significant cognitive change over the menstrual cycle, nor did we see the expected interactions between group and menstrual cycle phase (excepting verbal fluency). Finally, the relationships between estradiol, testosterone, and performances on cognitive tasks were unexpectedly weak.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/1557
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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