Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 1, P13-23, May 1997

Climacteric symptoms do not impair cognitive performances in postmenopause

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      Objective: To investigate whether information processing and attention performances are affected by climacteric vasomotor symptoms. Methods: The study group comprised 66 healthy hysterectomized postmenopausal women. The subjects were divided into two subgroups (high symptomatic and low symptomatic) according to the quantity of climacteric vasomotor symptoms. Information processing was examined using CogniSpeed, a reaction time software that separates, for example, pure controlled processing and working memory from perceptual and motor components. Attention was examined by using visual and auditory tasks. The role of climacteric depression as a determinant of cognitive performance was evaluated by the Beck Depression Inventory and dividing subjects according to self-reported climacteric mood symptoms. The effects of serum oestrogen level and ageing on cognitive performances were also studied. Results: Cognitive performances were similar in high symptomatic and low symptomatic women. On the Verification test younger women had shorter reaction times (P = 0.002) and on the Subtraction test they had fewer errors (P = 0.015) than older women. These tests required working memory and decision making. Accuracy in the tests of sustained and auditory attention worsened slightly with age. Cognitive performances neither correlated with scores on the Beck Depression scale nor with serum oestrogen level. Climacteric mood symptoms did not impair cognitive performance. Conclusions: Despite subjective complaints of memory impairment in association with climacteric vasomotor symptoms, our results did not support a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Thus, the minor deficits found in cognitive processing efficiency seem to be related rather to age than climacteric symptoms.


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