THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
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There were six research purposes. The first was to determine if there was a premenstrual deficit in performance on cognitive tasks. None was expected. The second was to examine whether there was an increase in symptoms of discomfort in the premenstruum. The third purpose was to see if certain women perform more poorly on cognitive tasks while premenstrual due to high symptom levels. The fourth purpose was to determine whether inferred high levels of estrogen interfere with women's ability to perform restructuring tasks but enhance performance on automatized tasks such as number comparison and addition. Purpose five was to determine if there was an inverse relationship between field independence and the ability to recognize emotions in others. Purpose six was to determine if there was a difference in women's ability to recognize emotions in others between the premenstrual and ovulatory state.;Subjects were 49 women between ages 22 and 35 who were oral contraceptive free. They took and recorded basal body temperature for two menstrual cycles. Subjects were tested twice during this time segment: one half were seen first at ovulation and then while premenstrual; the other half was seen first while premenstrual and second at ovulation. During both test sessions, the subjects were given the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire. This was followed by five cognitive tests: (a) the Rod and Frame Test, (b) the Hidden Figures Test, (c) the Number Comparison Test, (d) the Addition Test, and (e) the Brief Affect Recognition Test. Results indicated that there was no evidence of a premenstrual deficit in performance. Women appeared to report a greater number of symptoms of emotional and physical nature while premenstrual, but these same symptoms occurred at other times in the cycle at an attenuated level. No important relationship emerged between symptom level and performance. Inferred estrogen level did not affect performance. There was no relationship between field independence and recognition of facial affect. It was found that women who showed clear evidence of ovulation performed significantly better on the Brief Affect Recognition Test during the premenstrual-menstrual portion of the cycle than when tested on or shortly before ovulation.