Nowadays there seems to be a growing concern for age-related cognitive decline evidenced by the countless number of ads promising brain enhancement through the guise of drugs and nutrients. In addition, studies have shown that female mice exhibit more severe cognitive decline compared to age-matched male mice. So does this mean women should be more vigilant of their brain health and head for the pharmacies before it's too late? Or is all this hoopla just smoke and mirrors?
A recent study conducted by Benice and Raber over at the Oregon Health & Science University may provide us with more information to better answer these questions. Their primary aim was to see whether androgen levels affected spatial memory. They tested 22-24 month old female mice treated for 6 weeks with either testosterone, dehyrdrotestosterone, or placebo capsules. Female mice treated with testosterone showed enhanced performance in a water maze measuring spatial memory retention compared to female mice treated with a placebo. In contrast, female mice treated with dehydrotestosterone showed improvement in passive avoidance retention.
The results of this study provide evidence that androgen supplementation improves cognitive performance in older female mice depending on the cognitive task and type of hormone treatment. Now all we need to know is whether these findings translate to humans.
Benice TS, & Raber J (2009). Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone differentially improve cognition in aged female mice. Learning & memory (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), 16 (8), 479-85 PMID: 19633137