The current study investigated whether dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) administration mediates performance on episodic and visuo-spatial cognitive tasks in post-menopausal women. The experiment used a double-blind placebo-controlled cross-over design to explore the effects of a four week regimen of 50 mg of oral DHEA on cognitive performance. Aspects regarding the effectiveness of DHEA to produce changes in sex steroid levels, and whether those changes are effective in manipulation of cognitive task performance were examined. DHEA administration significantly increased serum levels of DHEA, DHEAS, testosterone and estrone. Our central result was that DHEA has a strong androgenic aspect that mediates certain types of visual task performance among post-menopausal women. DHEA enhanced performance in tasks that have traditionally shown effects of androgens. Furthermore, DHEA enhanced performance in tasks that incorporated visual object recognition working memory, perception, and object comparison but not spatial task performance. This is crucial as it highlights the specific cognitive processes involved in visual task performance that are being influenced by sex steroids. In contrast, DHEA does not effectively manipulate verbal or episodic memory task performance in post-menopausal women. Such results may help clarify inconsistencies regarding this complex relationship between sex steroids and cognitive performance that permeates the literature today.
|Advisor:||Hirshman, Elliot L.|
|Commitee:||Philbeck, John W., Rothblat, Lawrence A., Shomstein, Sarah, Verbalis, Joseph|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-B 71/04, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Psychology, Cognitive psychology|
|Keywords:||Cognition, DHEA, Dehydroepiandrosterone, Sex steroids|
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