Working memory in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Antiandrogenic treatment appears to have a beneficial effect on working memory in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.


Remi S. Soleman, M.Sc., Baudewijntje P.C. Kreukels, Ph.D., Dick J. Veltman, Ph.D., M.D., Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Ph.D., Peter G.A. Hompes, Ph.D., M.D., Madeleine L. Drent, Ph.D., M.D., Cornelis B. Lambalk, Ph.D., M.D.

Volume 105, Issue 5, Pages 1314-1321



To study effects of overexposure to androgens and subsequent antiandrogenic treatment on brain activity during working memory processes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


In this longitudinal study, working memory function was evaluated with the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in women with PCOS before and after antiandrogenic treatment.


Department of reproductive medicine, university medical center.


Fourteen women with PCOS and with hyperandrogenism and 20 healthy control women without any features of PCOS or other hormonal disorders.


Antiandrogenic hormone treatment.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Functional MRI response during a working memory task.


At baseline women with PCOS showed more activation than the control group within the right superior parietal lobe and the inferior parietal lobe during task (all memory conditions). Task performance (speed and accuracy) did not differ between the groups. After antiandrogenic treatment the difference in overall brain activity between the groups disappeared and accuracy in the high memory load condition of the working memory task increased in women with PCOS.


Women with PCOS may need additional neural resources during a working memory task compared with women without PCOS, suggesting less efficient executive functioning. This inefficiency may have effects on daily life functioning of women with PCOS. Antiandrogenic treatment appears to have a beneficial effect on this area of cognitive functioning.

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