Reconciling subjective memory complaints with objective memory performance in the menopausal transition

Menopause. 2012 Jul;19(7):735-41. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e318241fd22.


Objective: The overall aim of this study was to examine the relationship between subjective memory complaints and objective cognitive performance in perimenopausal women. The specific aims were to determine (1) if subjective complaints of memory problems relate to objective performance on memory tests, (2) if subjective complaints of memory problems relate to other domains of cognitive function, and (3) if subjective memory complaints relate to other noncognitive factors, such as depression, anxiety, and sleep quality.

Methods: Seventy-five perimenopausal women completed a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, which included measures of attention, working memory, verbal memory, verbal fluency, visuospatial skill, and fine motor dexterity; completed self-report inventories of their perceived memory and menopausal symptoms; and provided serum levels of estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone.

Results: Memory complaints were not associated with verbal learning or verbal memory but were associated with working memory and complex attention/vigilance. Memory complaints were also associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, somatic complaints, and sleep disturbance. Regression analyses revealed that memory complaints were best predicted by depressive symptoms, somatic complaints, and working memory performance.

Conclusions: Memory complaints in the menopausal transition may reflect true difficulties with attentionally mediated cognitive processes. Memory complaints may also be associated with other menopausal-related symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Attention
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Sleep


  • Estradiol
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone