Summary Physiological hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, postpartum, and menopause have been implicated in the modulation of mood, cognition, and affective disorders. Taking into account that women’s performance in memory tasks can also fluctuate with circulating hormones levels across the menstrual cycle, the cognitive performance in a working memory task for emotional facial expressions, using the six basic emotions as stimuli in the delayed matching-to-sample, was evaluated in young women in different phases of the menstrual cycle. Our findings suggest that high levels of estradiol in the follicular phase could have a negative effect on delayed matching-to-sample working memory task, using stimuli with emotional valence. Moreover, in the follicular phase, compared to the menstrual phase, the percent of errors was significantly higher for the emotional facial expressions of sadness and disgust. The evaluation of the response times (time employed to answer) for each facial expression with emotional valence showed a significant difference between follicular and luteal in reference to the emotional facial expression of sadness. Our results show that high levels of estradiol in the follicular phase could impair the performance of working memory. However, this effect is specific to selective facial expressions suggesting that, across the phases of the menstrual cycle, in which conception risk is high, women could give less importance to the recognition of the emotional facial expressions of sadness and disgust. This study is in agreement with research conducted on non-human primates, showing that fluctuations of ovarian hormones across the menstrual cycle influence a variety of social and cognitive behaviors. Moreover, our data could also represent a useful tool for investigating emotional disturbances linked to menstrual cycle phases and menopause in women.

Working memory for emotional facial expressions: role of the estrogen in human and non-human primates

GASBARRI, Antonella;POMPILI, ASSUNTA;
2008

Abstract

Summary Physiological hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, postpartum, and menopause have been implicated in the modulation of mood, cognition, and affective disorders. Taking into account that women’s performance in memory tasks can also fluctuate with circulating hormones levels across the menstrual cycle, the cognitive performance in a working memory task for emotional facial expressions, using the six basic emotions as stimuli in the delayed matching-to-sample, was evaluated in young women in different phases of the menstrual cycle. Our findings suggest that high levels of estradiol in the follicular phase could have a negative effect on delayed matching-to-sample working memory task, using stimuli with emotional valence. Moreover, in the follicular phase, compared to the menstrual phase, the percent of errors was significantly higher for the emotional facial expressions of sadness and disgust. The evaluation of the response times (time employed to answer) for each facial expression with emotional valence showed a significant difference between follicular and luteal in reference to the emotional facial expression of sadness. Our results show that high levels of estradiol in the follicular phase could impair the performance of working memory. However, this effect is specific to selective facial expressions suggesting that, across the phases of the menstrual cycle, in which conception risk is high, women could give less importance to the recognition of the emotional facial expressions of sadness and disgust. This study is in agreement with research conducted on non-human primates, showing that fluctuations of ovarian hormones across the menstrual cycle influence a variety of social and cognitive behaviors. Moreover, our data could also represent a useful tool for investigating emotional disturbances linked to menstrual cycle phases and menopause in women.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/2581
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