Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Elizabeth Hampson


Estradiol (E2) has been found to influence dopamine (DA) activity in the nonhuman animal brain. While there has been very little research performed looking at E2’s effects on DA-related cognitive function in humans, recent research found that women tested during high E2 phases of the menstrual cycle had significantly better performance on a DA-dependent spatial working memory task, than women tested during the lowest E2 phase. The current study utilized the natural hormone fluctuations that occur over the menstrual cycle to determine if E2 is associated with DA-dependent task performance. Using a repeated measures design, 47 women completed a battery of tasks, including 3 that are known to depend heavily on DA. The results showed that DA-dependent task performance was significantly associated with menstrual cycle phase. These findings provide preliminary evidence that variations in E2 over the menstrual cycle can affect central DA function in humans.