Lost the plot? The contraceptive pill might help

HORMONAL contraceptives might inadvertently change how the brain functions. In particular, a new study shows that taking the pill alters the way women recall an emotional narrative.

Shawn Nielsen of the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues asked 34 women who were on the pill and 35 who were not taking any hormonal contraceptive to watch a slide show depicting either an emotionally charged story or a similar but less emotional tale. A week later, they were asked to write down what they could recall of whichever story they had seen.

Both groups recalled more slides of the emotional story, on average, than the neutral one. However, women on the pill remembered the central plot better, whereas those who were not were better at recalling the peripheral details (Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, DOI: 10.1016/j.nlm.2011.06.013).

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