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The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on recognition memory decision processes and discrimination in postmenopausal women

Abstract

In this article, the theoretical distinction between recognition memory decision and discrimination processes is used to explore the effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in postmenopausal women. DHEA is an adrenal steroid that diminishes with aging. It has enhanced memory in laboratory animals. An 8-week placebo-controlled, double-blind experiment in which 30 women (ages 39–70) received a 50-mg/day oral dose of DHEA for 4 weeks demonstrated that DHEA made subjects more conservative (i.e., less likely to call test items “old”) in their recognition memory decisions and enhanced recognition memory discrimination for items presented briefly. The former result may reflect an empirical regularity (Hirshman, 1995) in whichrecent strong memory experiences make participants more conservative. The latter result may reflect the effect of DHEA on visual perception, with consequent effects on memory. These results suggest the methodological importance of focusing on decision processes when examining the effects of hormones on memory.

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Correspondence to Elliot Hirshman.

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The research presented here was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the first author.

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Hirshman, E., Wells, E., Wierman, M.E. et al. The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on recognition memory decision processes and discrimination in postmenopausal women. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 10, 125–134 (2003). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196476

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196476

Keywords

  • Testosterone
  • Postmenopausal Woman
  • Recognition Memory
  • False Alarm Rate
  • Study List