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Memory complaints and memory performance in the menopausal transition

Weber, Miriam PhD1,2; Mapstone, Mark PhD2

Menopause:
doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318196a0c9
Articles
Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between perimenopausal memory complaints and performance on objective neuropsychological tests. A secondary aim was to determine if putative deficits are related to other relevant factors, such as hormone levels, mood state, or sleep quality.

Methods: Twenty-four perimenopausal women were enrolled. Participants completed questionnaires assessing mood, anxiety, menopausal symptoms, health, and subjective memory function. They also underwent comprehensive cognitive testing, which included measures of attention, working memory, verbal memory, verbal fluency, visuospatial skill, and fine motor dexterity. We obtained serum estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone levels on the day of testing.

Results: We found no association between memory complaints and performance on tests of retentive memory. However, memory complaints were associated with poorer memory encoding and increased depressive symptoms. Regression analyses revealed that memory complaints were best predicted by depressive symptoms, whereas encoding performance was predicted by depressive symptoms and estrogen level. Women with significant memory complaints performed worse on tests of encoding, after controlling for depression and sleep disturbance.

Conclusions: These results suggest a complex relationship between mood, memory, and hormones that may underlie perimenopausal memory complaints. Furthermore, they suggest that some women may be particularly vulnerable to the subjective experience of memory problems and relative decreases in attentionally mediated cognitive function.

In Brief

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between perimenopausal memory complaints and objective memory performance. Memory complaints were associated with poorer memory encoding and increased depressive symptoms but not retentive memory.

Author Information

From the Departments of 1Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and 2Neurology, The University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY.

Received September 2, 2008; revised and accepted November 25, 2008.

Funding/support: This study was supported in part by the following grants: T32-NS07338 (to M.T.W.) and 5 M01 RR-00044 (University of Rochester Medical Center General Clinical Research Center).

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Miriam T. Weber, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Rochester Medical Center, Box 664, 601 Elmwood Ave, Rochester, NY 14642. E-mail: miriam_weber@urmc.rochester.edu

©2009The North American Menopause Society