Hemispheric asymmetry in spatial attention across the menstrual cycle

Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(11):1559-67. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.01.017. Epub 2005 Feb 25.


Functional cerebral asymmetries (FCAs) are known to fluctuate across the menstrual cycle. The mechanisms of these sex hormonal modulations are poorly understood. It has been suggested that gonadal steroid hormones might suppress or specifically activate one hemisphere. However, recent studies suggest that high levels of gonadal steroid hormones reduce FCAs by its modulating effects on cortico-cortical transmission. To investigate the activating effects of gonadal steroid hormones on the interhemispheric interaction, a visual line-bisection task was administered to normally cycling women during menses and the midluteal cycle phase as well as to similar-aged healthy men. The results replicate previous findings of a sex difference in line-bisection as a function of hand-use and show that the hand-use effect fluctuates across the menstrual cycle. High levels of estradiol during the midluteal phase were related to a decrease of the hand-use effect. It is concluded that cycle-related fluctuations in levels of gonadal steroid hormones affect hemispheric asymmetry of spatial attention, presumably by interhemispheric spreading of neuronal activation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Space Perception / physiology*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones