Page 7 2011 Winter
Spotlight on brain function, memory and testosterone in women
Have you had moments when you walk into a room and have no idea why you are there? Or the frustration due to that word or name on the tip of your tongue that just won't emerge from the recesses of your brain?
These events increase with age and research has highlighted that there may be a link with memory and testosterone in women. Testosterone levels fall with age in women and reach a low at around 65 years. This is also the age at which dementia incidence starts to rise, so could there be a direct link between testosterone and memory in women?
Attempting to answer this question, Monash University in Melbourne conducted a study in healthy postmenopausal women who were given testosterone treatment for 6 months and evaluated their memory and concentration over this time.
Even though this study was small, memory improved after 6 months of testosterone treatment, when compared to a group of women who did not receive testosterone. These results are exciting as there is no known treatment that can slow down the decline in brain function that may eventually lead to dementia. Testosterone may have the potential to do this if future trials confirm this preliminary finding.
Researchers from Monash University are now seeking women aged 55 to 70 years to participate in a study on the effects of testosterone (given as a skin patch or gel) on brain function compared with placebo, or 'dummy' treatment. The study is being conducted at the Alfred Hospital. Each woman will receive 6 months of treatment, and brain function will be assessed both at the start and at the end of treatment. Researchers will use a computer program to test brain function that consists of tasks in the form of card games and other challenges and is quite fun, suitable even for those who may not be familiar with computers.
The study is led by Dr Sonia Davison, who is a consultant endocrinologist at the Jean Hailes Medical Centre for Women. She has been awarded a prestigious Monash University Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship to study this area further, in addition to being included in the Monash Research Accelerator Program, for emerging researchers. Her aim is to discover a treatment that improves or preserves memory in women, and she looks forward to hearing from any women who may be interested in participating!
To register your interest or for more information, please call (03) 9903 0820,
Content updated June 2011