This article was brought to my attention by the male minority (we have 2 men and 8 women) in my lab. They suggested that the article supports their plea to recruit more men into the lab in order to neutralize the excessive female-ness that they are exposed to every day. They are grossly exaggerating, of course. Nevertheless, here are excerpts from the article.
University of Illinois researchers report this week that chronic exposure to estradiol, the main estrogen in the body, diminishes some cognitive functions. Rats exposed to a steady dose of estradiol were impaired on tasks involving working memory and response inhibition, the researchers found.
Their report appears this week in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.
The researchers made the discovery when studying the effects of estradiol on activities mediated by the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is vital to working memory and to the ability to plan, respond to changing conditions and moderate or control one’s behavior.
In the new study, rats were trained to press one of two levers to obtain a food reward. Those that alternated between the levers (which were withdrawn from the rat enclosure for a few seconds between trials) received a reward. Those that hit the same lever twice in a row got no reward. Rats exposed to estradiol performed worse than their counterparts on this task, earning significantly fewer rewards.
A second set of tests measured the rats’ ability to wait before responding to a stimulus. The rats had to wait 15 seconds before pushing a lever to get a reward. Those exposed to estradiol performed worse on this task than those that were not exposed.
Read the rest of the article.