Context: It has been proposed that dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) exert neuroprotective effects in the brain, yet evidence of associations between the endogenous levels of these steroids and measures of cognitive function is lacking.
Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate whether circulating levels of DHEAS independently contribute to aspects of cognitive function in women in the community.
Design: This was a community-based, cross-sectional study.
Setting and participants: Two hundred ninety-five women, aged 21-77 yr, were recruited from a community-based data set and participated between September 2003 and December 2004. Women were excluded if they reported any health condition that might potentially adversely affect cognitive function.
Main outcome measures: The individual scores of a comprehensive battery of tests of cognitive function and the serum level of DHEAS (square root transformed) were measured.
Results: In the multiple linear regression analysis, the DHEAS term made a significant independent positive contribution to the Controlled Oral Word Association Test score, a measure of executive function. In addition, women with a DHEAS level in the highest tertile who also had more than 12 yr of education performed better on both Digit Span Forward and Digit Span Backward tests, which are tests of simple concentration and working memory, respectively.
Conclusions: Higher endogenous DHEAS levels are independently and favorably associated with executive function, concentration, and working memory.