Menstrual cycle affects functional cerebral asymmetries

Neuropsychologia. 1995 Jul;33(7):855-65. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(95)00015-u.


Cerebral lateralization in females is probably modulated by the menstrual cycle such that a part of hemispheric asymmetries are diminished with an increase of the steroids estrogen and progesterone during the follicular and luteal phase and enhanced with steroid decreases during the menstrual phase. However, previous data were contradictory with regard to the hemispheric side of modulation and could not analyze which steroid is mainly responsible for cycle dependent lateralization shifts. Therefore, in the present study estrogen and progesterone changes were assessed separately and related to changes in cerebral asymmetry. Plasma levels of estrogen and progesterone were measured once during luteal and once during menstrual cycle phase while 20 females subjects performed a verbal and a figural lateralized matching task. The results showed a significant cycle phase x lateralization interaction for the right hemisphere dominated figural comparison task but not for the left hemispheric lexical condition. Although the lateralization was modulated by the menstrual cycle, a within-subject regression analysis demonstrated that the asymmetry shift was not under direct influence of estrogen or progesterone. Thus, the present study provides further empirical support for cycle dependent alterations in lateralization but makes it unlikely that this effect is directly caused by estrogen or progesterone plasma level variations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language Tests
  • Luteal Phase / physiology
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood*
  • Reaction Time
  • Speech Perception


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone