Sex hormonal modulation of hemispheric asymmetries in the attentional blink

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2005 May;11(3):263-72. doi: 10.1017/S1355617705050319.


The present study examines differences in functional cerebral asymmetries modulated by gonadal steroid hormones during the menstrual cycle in women. Twenty-one right-handed women with regular menstrual cycles performed a double-stream rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) task, with one stream in each visual field, during the low steroid menses and the high steroid midluteal phase. They were required to detect a target item, and then a probe item, each of which could appear in either stream. If the probe item appeared 200 ms after the target, detection of the probe was impaired-a phenomenon known as the "attentional blink." This occurred in both streams in the midluteal phase, but only in the right visual field during menses. Thus low steroid levels appeared to restrict the attentional blink to the left hemisphere, while high levels of estradiol and progesterone in the midluteal phase appeared to reduce functional asymmetries by selectively increasing the attentional blink in the right hemisphere. This effect appears to be mediated by estradiol rather than progesterone, and it is compatible with the assumption of a hormone-related suppression of right hemisphere functions during the midluteal phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Blinking / physiology*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Estradiol / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology
  • Progesterone / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol