The current study examined the effects of pharmacologic dopaminergic manipulations on working memory-related brain activation in postmenopausal women to further understand the neurochemistry underlying cognition after menopause.
Eighteen healthy postmenopausal women, mean age 55.21 years, completed three study days with dopaminergic drug challenges during which they performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging visual verbal N-back test of working memory. Acute stimulation with 1.25 mg oral D2 agonist bromocriptine, acute blockade with 1.5 mg oral haloperidol, and matching placebo were administered randomly and blindly on three study days.
We found that dopaminergic stimulation increased activation primarily in the posterior regions of the working memory network compared with dopaminergic blockade using a whole brain cluster-level corrected analysis. The dopaminergic medications did not affect working memory performance.
Patterns of increased blood-oxygen-level dependent signal activation after dopaminergic stimulation were found in this study in posterior brain regions with no effect on working memory performance. Further studies should examine specific dopaminergic contributions to brain functioning in healthy postmenopausal women to determine the effects of the increased brain activation on cognition and behavior.