Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Gray, Michelle

Committee Member/Reader

Durdik, Jeannine

Committee Member/Second Reader

Tipsmark, Christian

Committee Member/Third Reader

Reeber, Joy


Women who have a reoccurring menstrual cycle and do not take hormonal birth control naturally experience changes in the amount of sex hormones that their body produces. These sex hormones help promote sexual development, fertility, and mood regulation, but can be hard to study due to their conflicting effects on each other. One such hormone, progesterone, is produced in different concentrations throughout the menstrual cycle to prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy. However, it also may have secondhand effects on how well women can complete everyday tasks involving memory, attention, processing speed, and more which is what we measured during this study. To investigate this phenomenon, college-aged women (aged 18 - 25 years) were selected to complete a series of cognitive tests from the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) which measures immediate memory, visuospatial perception, attention, expressive language, and delayed memory. They completed these tests during a time in their cycle when progesterone levels were at their lowest (menses) and at their highest 15 - 18 days after their period in the mid-luteal phase. Participants were placed in groups where Group 1 completed their first trial during menses and their second trial during their mid-luteal phase. Group 2 completed their visits in the opposite order. For each trial, participants also provided a saliva sample both before and after they completed the RBANS test that will confirm their specific progesterone levels from each visit in a future analysis. The results suggest that women in their mid-luteal phase performed significantly better than in menses at the Line Orientation task which measures visuospatial abilities. On the Coding task, which measures visual attention and processing speed, women performed worse in their mid-luteal phase at a difference that is approaching significance. These results suggest that menstrual cycle phases do not affect total cognition, but visuospatial processing might be impacted by the mid-luteal phase. They also contribute to the ongoing investigation into the confounding effects of menstrual phase on mood and cognition.


Menstrual cycle, cognition, progesterone, women's hormones