Penn Study Shows Stimulant Drug May Help Women Cope with Post-Menopausal Memory Lapses

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Media Contact:Lee-Ann Donegan | leeann.donegan@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-5660May 3, 2014

Menopausal women have long reported experiencing hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and memory lapses, too.

A new study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows preliminary evidence that the psychostimulant drug lisdexamfetamine (LDX) can aid post-menopausal women by improving attention and concentration, organization, working memory and recall. The findings will be presented by C. Neill Epperson, MD, director of the Penn Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, on Tuesday during the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Dr. Epperson’s study enrolled 30 women between the ages of 48 and 60 who had experienced a diminished ability to focus and multi-task in their early post-menopausal years. The cohort was made up of successful women –none of whom were more than five years post-menopause.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study gave participants a four week regimen of LDX (which has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD) as well as four weeks of placebo to assess the drug’s effectiveness in reducing subjective, new-onset executive function difficulties, and improving performance on verbal recall, working memory and attention tasks.

A subset of women also underwent brain imaging, functional MRI and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to assess brain activation and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex neurochemistry.

The women were then asked to report their level of executive function across five domains: Organization and motivation for work; concentration and attention; alertness, effort and processing speed and managing affective interference, the tendency to overly focus on the emotion of a message; and working memory and recall.

Preliminary data show that all executive function domains, except managing affective interference, showed a significant reduction in severity of symptoms during active LDX treatment versus treatment with placebo. In one domain, organization and motivation for work, the severity of reported impairment predicted the degree of response to LDX treatment such that women with greater severity of symptoms in this domain found the greatest improvement with LDX treatment. 

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