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Hot Flashes Can Hinder Verbal Memory

A new study shows that if you are having difficulty finding the right word to express yourself clearly or can’t remember a story correctly, you can blame the hot flashes associated with menopause.

The new research shows that physiologic hot flashes are associated with decreased verbal memory and with alterations in brain function during encoding and retrieval of memory, especially in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. The study was published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Previous studies have already shown that women experience a decline in memory for verbal material, such as words and stories, as they transition through menopause, according to researchers.

In the new study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to document the occurrence of physiologic hot flashes and their specific effect on hippocampal and prefrontal cortex function during encoding and recognition conditions of a memory task.

The strengths of the study are in the use of physiologic hot flash monitoring to confirm the hot flash versus relying on patient recall and the use of functional MRI to evaluate real-time changes occurring within the brain during the memory testing, the researchers noted.

Larger studies are needed to fully evaluate the reliability of the relationship between hot flashes and altered brain function. But this study provides new insights into specific areas in the brain involved in memory that appear to be adversely affected by hot flashes, the researchers added.

“The findings of this preliminary study, although small, support an association between objectively monitored hot flashes and adverse functional changes in the brain that affect memory. Further study is needed to determine whether hot flashes actually cause these brain changes and whether treatment of hot flashes will prevent or normalize them,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

Source: The North American Menopause Society

Hot Flashes Can Hinder Verbal Memory

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2020). Hot Flashes Can Hinder Verbal Memory. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/01/25/hot-flashes-can-hinder-verbal-memory/153661.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Jan 2020 (Originally: 25 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Jan 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.