Onset of menopause slows down learning in women

May 26th, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, May 26 (IANS) Onset of menopause slows down learning among women, according to a new study.
For a four-year period, researchers in California studied 2,362 women, aged between 42 and 52 years, who had at least one menstrual period within the three months before the study started.

The women were given three tests: verbal memory, working memory and a test that measured the speed at which they processed information.

Scientists tested the women throughout four stages of the menopause transition: pre-menopausal (no change in menstrual periods), early perimenopausal (menstrual irregularity but no ‘gaps’ of three months), late perimenopausal (having no period for three to 11 months) and post-menopausal (no period for 12 months).

The study found that processing speed improved with repeated testing during pre-menopause, early perimenopause and post-menopause, but that scores during late perimenopause did not show the same degree of improvement.

Improvements in processing speed during late perimenopause were only 28 percent as large as improvements observed in pre-menopause.

For verbal memory performance, compared to pre-menopause, improvement was not as strong during early and late perimenopause. Improvements in verbal memory during early perimenopause were 29 percent as large as improvements observed in pre-menopause.

“These perimenopausal test results concur with prior self-reported memory difficulties -60 percent of women state that they have memory problems during the menopause transition,” said Gail Greendale, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“The good news is that the effect of perimenopause on learning seems to be temporary. Our study found that the amount of learning improved back to pre-menopausal levels during the post-menopausal stage,” Greendale was quoted as saying by a UCLA release.

The research was published in the Tuesday issue of Neurology.

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