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Menopause and Memory: Search for Links

Near Menopause, Women's Memory May Seem Worse Than It Really Is

Stressful Time of Life

Many middle-aged women (and men) are busy with careers, families, and caring for aging parents, the researchers note in a news release.

"When people spread their attention thin, it's difficult to encode new information," Mapstone says.

"When they're worried or anxious about being late for work, or the problems of an aging parent -- that sort of stress can rob your attentional resources and impact your ability to encode information properly," he explains.

Mapstone says anxiety and depression may make it harder for men and women to take in new information.

Weber agrees. "What characterizes these women is that they're being pulled in a lot of different directions," she says in the news release. "Many work -- they have careers, aging parents, children. Then they're going through this dramatic change."

The "dramatic change" she refers to is menopause.

"This will resonate for most women," Weber says. "There really is something going on. And perhaps knowing that their perceived problems with memory do not suggest early dementia might alleviate their concerns and actually improve their functioning -- it's one less thing to worry about."

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