Ladies, take note! Menstruating does not affect your working memory, cognitive bias or ability to pay attention on different tasks at once, say scientists who contradict the belief that anyone who is on their period is not working at top mental pitch.
Researchers examined the three aspects of cognition across two menstrual cycles, and found that the levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone have no impact on cognitive abilities. While some hormones were associated with changes across one cycle in some of the women taking part, these effects did not repeat in the following cycle.
Overall, none of the hormones the team studied had any replicable, consistent effect on the participants' cognition, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. "As a specialist in reproductive medicine and a psychotherapist, I deal with many women who have the impression that the menstrual cycle influences their well- being and cognitive performance," said Brigitte Leeners, from University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland.
Wondering if this anecdotal evidence could be scientifically proven, researchers set out to shed some light on this controversial topic. The study uses a much larger sample than usual, and follows women across two consecutive menstrual cycles.
Researchers recruited 68 women to undergo detailed monitoring to investigate changes in three selected cognitive processes at different stages in the menstrual cycle.While analysis of the results from the first cycle suggested that cognitive bias and attention were affected, these results were not replicated in the second cycle.
The team looked for differences in performance between individuals and changes in individuals' performance over time, and found none. "The hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle do not show any association with cognitive performance," said Leeners.