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Memory and DHEA


Studies have suggested that DHEA administration can improve memory performance as well as neuronal plasticity.

DHEA has been shown to improve measures of cognitive function, such as memory, in laboratory studies. Abnormal balances in the brain between DHEA-S and cortisol have been shown to decrease brain function.


Clinical Studies

  • In a medical school study, 31 elderly people with memory loss were given DHEA by mouth daily for 3 months.
    There were no side effects and, when compared with similar patients who received only a placebo, those receiving DHEA performed better on tests of mental function and memory.

  • A case report in 1990 of a 47 year old woman with a 20 year history of treatment-refractory learning and memory dysfunction and with low baseline of DHEA(S) levels (177). She demonstrated improved verbal recall and recognition and normalization of EGG and P300 brain electrophysiology in response to open-label DHEA ranging from 12.5mg/kg to 37mg/kg for 2 years.

  • In contrast to the non-beneficial effects of DHEA on memory in the elderly, a randomised UK study found that a 7-day course of DHEA (150 mg twice daily) improved episodic memory in healthy young men. In this study, DHEA was also shown to improve subjective mood and decrease evening cortisol concentration, which is known to be elevated in depression. The effect of DHEA on memory appeared to be related to an early activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and it was suggested this was due to neuronal recruitment of the steroid sensitive ACC that may be involved in
    pre-hippocampal memory processing.

  • The effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on recognition memory decision processes and discrimination in postmenopausal women. An 8-week placebo-controlled, double-blind experiment in which 30 women (ages 39-70) received a 50-mg/day oral dose of DHEA for 4 weeks demonstrated that DHEA made subjects more conservative (i.e., less likely to call test items "old") in their recognition memory decisions and enhanced recognition memory discrimination for items presented briefly. The former result may reflect an empirical regularity in which recent strong memory experiences make participants more conservative. The later result may reflect the effect of DHEA on visual perception, with consequent effects on memory. These results suggest the methodological importance of focusing on decision processes when examining the effects of hormones on memory.









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