Does age at menopause affect memory?

April 11, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS - Entering menopause at a later age may be associated with a small benefit to your memory years later, according to a study published in the April 11, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"This study suggests that lifelong hormonal processes, not just short-term fluctuations during menopause, may be associated with memory skills," said study author Diana Kuh, PhD, FFPH, FMedSci, of the University College London in the United Kingdom.

The study involved 1,315 women from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development in Great Britain who had been followed since birth in March 1946. All of the women had tests of their verbal memory skills and their cognitive processing speed at ages 43, 53, between 60 and 64, and at age 69. The researchers collected information on age at menopause, either natural or due to removal of the ovaries, whether they took hormone replacement therapy, and other factors that could affect thinking and memory skills, such as childhood cognitive ability, amount of education, smoking and type of occupation.

Menopause, which is defined as the age at last menstrual cycle, started on average for the women with natural menopause at age 51 and a half.

For the verbal memory test, participants were asked to recall a 15-item list three times, with a maximum score of 45. At age 43, participants recalled an average of 25.8 words. By age 69, they recalled an average of 23.3 words. The study found that among 846 women who experienced menopause naturally, women who had later menopause had higher verbal memory scores, remembering 0.17 additional words per year. After researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect memory, the difference was 0.09 additional words per year.

"The difference in verbal memory scores for a 10-year difference in the start of menopause was small--recalling only one additional word, but it's possible that this benefit could translate to a reduced risk of dementia years later," Kuh said. "More research and follow-up are needed to determine whether that is the case."

Kuh noted that the relationship between the age at menopause and memory scores was not affected by use of hormone therapy.

For 313 women who experienced menopause due to surgery, the relationship between age at the time of surgery and memory scores was no longer present after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect memory.

On the test of how fast the women could process information, there was no relationship between the age at menopause and test scores.

"This difference may be due to the estrogen receptor role, which regulates the gene that codes brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps to solidify memory formation and storage," Kuh said.

Limitations of the study were that the tests of memory and processing speed were taken relatively far apart in time and that information was not available on the dose for women taking hormone therapy.
-end-
The study was supported by the UK Medical Research Council.

To learn more about brain health, visit http://www.aan.com/patients.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 34,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Media Contacts:

Renee Tessman, rtessman@aan.com, (612) 928-6137

Michelle Uher, muher@aan.com, (612) 928-6120

American Academy of Neurology

Related Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.

VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.

The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.

How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.

A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.

Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.

Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.

Read More: Memory News and Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.