The effect of progesterone levels on Wisconsin Card Sorting task performance

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Thielenhaus, Sara
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Does progesterone level lead to a difference between men and women on their ability to perform the Wisconsin Card Sorting task.
Sex hormones play a role in cognitive performanceEstrogen and progesterone fluctuate across the menstrual cycleWell known effects of estrogenHigh estrogen •Follicular stage •Memory errors occur the most often •Gasbarri (2008); Holmes (2002)Limited research on the effects of progesteroneImportance of progesterone •Average concentration fluctuation of progesterone is double that of estrogen during the menstrual cycle •Maki (2002)High progesterone •Luteal stage •Executive functioning abilities increase •Soliz-Ortiz (2004)Does this lead to a difference in men and women?Men perform better than women •Men outperformed women on the executive functioning skill of decision making •Overman (2004)Why is there a difference between men and women? •Is the difference between men and women a generalized difference? •Do women perform worse only during Follicular (when estrogen is high)? •Could women perform as well as men during Luteal (when progesterone is high)? •Will women on progesterone based birth control perform as well as men?Purpose:Compare men to different groups of women •Men (no hormone fluctuation) •Women on Birth Control (highprogesterone) •Women during Menses (lowprogesterone, lowestrogen) •Women during Follicular (lowprogesterone, highestrogen) •Women during Ovulation (lowprogesterone, moderateestrogen) •Women during Luteal (highprogesterone, lowestrogen)The Effect of Progesterone on Wisconsin Card Sorting Task PerformanceSara Thielenhaus, Washburn University –Faculty Sponsor, Dr. Joanne AltmanFigure 1. Mean WCST scores for groups plus significant results from naturally cycling women with a complete set of scores (n=18) Discussion IntroductionResultsIdealDesign 3(Sex)x 4(Phase) Mixed Design Analysis of Variance AdjustedDesign2(Sex)x 3(Phase) Mixed Design Analysis of VarianceSex: p=nsPhase: p=0.038(Sex)x(Phase): p=nsParticipants •15 men for 5 weeks •15 women (on birth control) for 5 weeks •30 women (naturally cycling) for 5 weeksCriteria for women •18-30 years of age •Not pregnant •Regular menstrual cyclesMaterialsDemographic survey each weekWisconsin Card Sorting Task •Cards are matched by an unknown rule (color, shape, or No. of symbols) •Unknown rule changes •Measures the ability to decide each rule changeProcedure MethodHypothesisHowever, 1. 3 sexes are hard to define2. Men do not experience a menstrual cycle •Week 1 eliminated due to learning curve 3. Women during Ovulation were hard to find Resultsp=0.038(1)(2)(3)LimitationsLow participation and incomplete data sets •Low participant availability •High drop out rates •Elimination of week #1 data (Learning phase)Future researchMore participantsOther measures of executive functioningHormone testing •Better estimation on progesterone levels Is there a difference between men and women?Yes, men and women show a difference in decision making skillsBut, men are not necessarily better than womenThe difference is tied to progesterone levelsThe effect of high progesterone on decision making abilityThe Lutealphase •Women perform higher than men on the Wisconsin Card Sorting TaskBirth Control •Women perform at the same level as men on the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task