Skip to main content
×
Home

Soya isoflavone supplementation enhances spatial working memory in men

  • Alicia A. Thorp (a1) (a2), Natalie Sinn (a1), Jonathan D. Buckley (a1), Alison M. Coates (a1) and Peter R. C. Howe (a1)...
Abstract

Females perform better in certain memory-related tasks than males. Sex differences in cognitive performance may be attributable to differences in circulating oestrogen acting on oestrogen β receptors (ERβ) which are prevalent in brain regions such as the hippocampus, frontal lobe and cortex that mediate cognitive functions. Since soya isoflavones are known to activate ERβ, chronic isoflavone supplementation in males may improve cognitive performance in memory-related tasks. A 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial was conducted in thirty-four healthy men to investigate the effect of isoflavone supplementation on cognitive function. Volunteers were randomised to take four capsules/d containing soya isoflavones (116 mg isoflavone equivalents/d: 68 mg daidzein, 12 mg genistein, 36 mg glycitin) or placebo for 6 weeks, and the alternate treatment during the following 6 weeks. Assessments of memory (verbal episodic, auditory and working), executive function (planning, attention, mental flexibility) and visual-spatial processing were performed at baseline and after each treatment period. Isoflavone supplementation significantly improved spatial working memory (P = 0·01), a test in which females consistently perform better than males. Compared with placebo supplementation, there were 18 % fewer attempts (P = 0·01), 23 % fewer errors (P = 0·02) and 17 % less time (P = 0·03) required to correctly identify the requisite information. Isoflavones did not affect auditory and episodic memory (Paired Associate Learning, Rey's Auditory Verbal Learning Task, Backward Digit Span and Letter-Number Sequencing), executive function (Trail Making and Initial Letter Fluency Task) or visual-spatial processing (Mental Rotation Task). Isoflavone supplementation in healthy males may enhance cognitive processes which appear dependent on oestrogen activation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Soya isoflavone supplementation enhances spatial working memory in men
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Soya isoflavone supplementation enhances spatial working memory in men
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Soya isoflavone supplementation enhances spatial working memory in men
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Professor Peter R. C. Howe, fax +61 8 8302 2178, email peter.howe@unisa.edu.au
References
Hide All
1Kimura D (1999) Sex and Cognition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
2Mann VA, Sasanuma S, Sakuma N, et al. (1990) Sex differences in cognitive abilities: a cross-cultural perspective. Neuropsychologia 28, 10631077.
3Maccoby EE & Jacklin CN (1974) The Psychology of Sex Differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
4Collaer ML & Hines M (1995) Human behavioral sex differences: a role for gonadal hormones during early development? Psychol Bull 118, 55107.
5Silverman I & Phillips K (1998) The evolutionary psychology of spatial sex differences. In Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: Ideas, Issues and Applications, pp. 595611 [Crawford C and Krebs DL, editors]. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
6Shughrue PJ, Lane MV & Merchenthaler I (1997) Comparative distribution of estrogen receptor-α and -β mRNA in the rat central nervous system. J Comp Neurol 388, 507525.
7Osterlund MK & Hurd YL (2001) Estrogen receptors in the human forebrain and the relation to neuropsychiatric disorders. Prog Neurobiol 64, 251267.
8Pau CY, Pau KY & Spies HG (1998) Putative estrogen receptor β and α mRNA expression in male and female rhesus macaques. Mol Cell Endocrinol 146, 5968.
9Otto T & Eichenbaum H (1992) Neuronal activity in the hippocampus during delayed non-match to sample performance in rats: evidence for hippocampal processing in recognition memory. Hippocampus 2, 323334.
10Loy R, Gerlach JL & McEwen BS (1988) Autoradiographic localization of estradiol-binding neurons in the rat hippocampal formation and entorhinal cortex. Brain Res 467, 245251.
11O'Keefe JA & Handa RJ (1990) Transient elevation of estrogen receptors in the neonatal rat hippocampus. Brain Res Dev Brain Res 57, 119127.
12Duff SJ & Hampson E (2000) A beneficial effect of estrogen on working memory in postmenopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy. Horm Behav 38, 262276.
13Maki PM, Zonderman AB & Resnick SM (2001) Enhanced verbal memory in nondemented elderly women receiving hormone-replacement therapy. Am J Psychiatry 158, 227233.
14Miles C, Green R, Sanders G, et al. (1998) Estrogen and memory in a transsexual population. Horm Behav 34, 199208.
15Lee YB, Lee HJ, Won MH, et al. (2004) Soy isoflavones improve spatial delayed matching-to-place performance and reduce cholinergic neuron loss in elderly male rats. J Nutr 134, 18271831.
16File SE, Hartley DE, Alom N, et al. (2003) Soya phytoestrogens change cortical and hippocampal expression of BDNF mRNA in male rats. Neurosci Lett 338, 135138.
17Lephart ED, West TW, Weber KS, et al. (2002) Neurobehavioral effects of dietary soy phytoestrogens. Neurotoxicol Teratol 24, 516.
18File SE, Hartley DE, Elsabagh S, et al. (2005) Cognitive improvement after 6 weeks of soya supplements in postmenopausal women is limited to frontal lobe function. Menopause 12, 193201.
19Duffy RH, Wiseman H & File SE (2003) Improved cognitive function in postmenopausal women after 12 weeks of consumption of a soya extract containing isoflavones. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 75, 721729.
20Kritz-Silverstein D, Von Mühlen D, Barrett-Connor E, et al. (2003) Isoflavones and cognitive function in older women: the SOy and Postmenopausal Health In Aging (SOPHIA) Study. Menopause 10, 196202.
21Kreijkamp-Kaspers S, Kok L, Bots ML, et al. (2005) Randomized controlled trial of the effects of soy protein containing isoflavones on vascular function in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 81, 189195.
22Ho SC, Chan AS, Ho YP, et al. (2007) Effects of soy isoflavone supplementation on cognitive function in Chinese postmenopausal women: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Menopause 14, 489499.
23White LR, Petrovitch H, Ross GW, et al. (2000) Brain aging and midlife tofu consumption. J Am Coll Nutr 19, 242255.
24Lund TD, West TW, Tian LY, et al. (2001) Visual spatial memory is enhanced in female rats (but inhibited in males) by dietary soy phytoestrogens. BMC Neurosci 2, 20.
25Celec P, Ostatníková D, Hodosy J, et al. (2007) Increased one week soybean consumption affects spatial abilities but not sex hormone status in men. Int J Food Sci Nutr 58, 424428.
26Ostatníková D, Celec P, Hodosy J, et al. (2007) Short-term soybean intake and its effect on steroid sex hormones and cognitive abilities. Fertil Steril 88, 16321636.
27File SE, Jarrett N, Fluck E, et al. (2001) Eating soya improves human memory. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 157, 430436.
28Duff SJ & Hampson E (2001) A sex difference on a novel spatial working memory task in humans. Brain Cogn 47, 470493.
29Ivison D (1977) The Wechsler Memory Scale: preliminary findings toward an Australian standardisation. Aust Psychol 12, 303312.
30Bleecker ML, Bolla-Wilson K, Agnew J, et al. (1988) Age-related sex differences in verbal memory. J Clin Psychol 44, 403411.
31Geffen GM, Moar KJ, O'Hanlon AP, et al. (1990) The Auditory Verbal Learning Test (Rey): performance of 16 to 86 year olds of average intelligence. Clin Neuropsychol 4, 4563.
32Berenbaum SA, Baxter L, Seidenberg M, et al. (1997) Role of the hippocampus in sex differences in verbal memory: memory outcome following left anterior temporal lobectomy. Neuropsychology 11, 585591.
33Hay JC (2007) PsychLab Online: 2D Mental Rotation Task.http://pantherfile.uwm.edu/johnchay/index.htm?uniq = 1n12ul.
34Hogervorst E, Sadjimin T, Yesufu A, et al. (2008) High tofu intake is associated with worse memory in elderly Indonesian men and women. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 26, 5057.
35Courtney SM, Petit L, Maisog JM, et al. (1998) An area specialized for spatial working memory in human frontal cortex. Science 279, 13471351.
36Bonsall RW, Zumpe D & Michael RP (1990) Comparisons of the nuclear uptake of [3H]-testosterone and its metabolites by the brains of male and female macaque fetuses at 122 days of gestation. Neuroendocrinology 51, 474480.
37Clark AS, MacLusky NJ & Goldman-Rakic PS (1988) Androgen binding and metabolism in the cerebral cortex of the developing rhesus monkey. Endocrinology 123, 932940.
38MacLusky NJ, Naftolin F & Goldman-Rakic PS (1986) Estrogen formation and binding in the cerebral cortex of the developing rhesus monkey. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 83, 513516.
39Bixo M, Bäckström T, Winblad B, et al. (1995) Estradiol and testosterone in specific regions of the human female brain in different endocrine states. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 55, 297303.
40Berman KF, Schmidt PJ, Rubinow DR, et al. (1997) Modulation of cognition-specific cortical activity by gonadal steroids: a positron-emission tomography study in women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 94, 88368841.
41Gamache PH, Maher TJ, Setchell KDR, et al. (1996) The transfer of non-steroidal dietary estrogens into brain. Soc Neurosci 22, 771776.
42Lephart ED, Thompson JM, Setchell KD, et al. (2000) Phytoestrogens decrease brain calcium-binding proteins but do not alter hypothalamic androgen metabolizing enzymes in adult male rats. Brain Res 859, 123131.
43Passingham RE (1985) Memory of monkeys (Macaca mulatta) with lesions in prefrontal cortex. Behav Neurosci 99, 321.
44Owen A, Downes JJ, Sahakian BJ, et al. (1990) Planning and spatial working memory following frontal lobe lesions in man. Neuropsychologia 28, 10211034.
45Owen AM, Sahakian BJ, Semple J, et al. (1995) Visuo-spatial short-term recognition memory and learning after temporal lobe excisions, frontal lobe excisions or amygdalo-hippocampectomy in man. Neuropsychologia 33, 124.
46Owen AM, Evans AC & Petrides M (1996) Evidence for a two-stage model of spatial working memory processing within the lateral frontal cortex: a positron emission tomography study. Cereb Cortex 6, 3138.
47Ruff RM, Light RH, Parker SB, et al. (1996) Benton Controlled Oral Word Association Test: reliability and updated norms. Arch Clin Neuropsychol 11, 329338.
48Sarno MT, Buonaguro A & Levita E (1985) Gender and recovery from aphasia after stroke. J Nerv Ment Dis 173, 605609.
49Zec RF, Andrise A, Vicari S, et al. (1990) A comparison of phonemic and sematic word fluency in Alzheimer patients and elderly controls (abstract). J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 12, 18.
50Blum JE, Fosshage JL & Jarvik LF (1972) Intellectual changes and sex differences in octogenarians: a twenty year longitudinal study of aging. Dev Psychol 7, 178187.
51Kreijkamp-Kaspers S, Kok L, Grobbee DE, et al. (2004) Effect of soy protein containing isoflavones on cognitive function, bone mineral density, and plasma lipids in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 292, 6574.
52Fournier LR, Ryan Borchers TA, Robison LM, et al. (2007) The effects of soy milk and isoflavone supplements on cognitive performance in healthy, postmenopausal women. J Nutr Health Aging 11, 155164.
53Bornstein RA (1985) Normative data on selected neuropsychological measures from a non clinical sample. J Clin Psychol 41, 651659.
54Kortte KB, Horner MD & Windham WK (2002) The Trail Making Test, part B: cognitive flexibility or ability to maintain set? Appl Neuropsychol 9, 106109.
55Gaudino EA, Geisler MW & Squires NK (1995) Construct validity in the Trail Making Test: what makes part B harder? J Clin Exp Neuropsychol 17, 529535.
56Luine VN, Richards ST, Wu VY, et al. (1998) Estradiol enhances learning and memory in a spatial memory task and effects levels of monoaminergic neurotransmitters. Horm Behav 34, 149162.
57Bimonte HA & Denenberg VH (1999) Estradiol facilitates performance as working memory load increases. Psychoneuroendocrinology 24, 161173.
58Berry B, McMahan R & Gallagher M (1997) Spatial learning and memory at defined points of the estrous cycle: effects on performance of a hippocampal-dependent task. Behav Neurosci 111, 267274.
59Williams CL & Meck WH (1991) The organizational effects of gonadal steroids on sexually dimorphic spatial ability. Psychoneuroendocrinology 16, 155176.
60Lephart ED (1996) A review of brain aromatase cytochrome P450. Brain Res Brain Res Rev 22, 126.
61Isgor C & Sengelaub DR (1998) Prenatal gonadal steroids affect adult spatial behavior, CA1 and CA3 pyramidal cell morphology in rats. Horm Behav 34, 183198.
62Roof RL (1993) Neonatal exogenous testosterone modifies sex difference in radial arm and Morris water maze performance in prepubescent and adult rats. Behav Brain Res 53, 110.
63Voyer D, Voyer S & Bryden MP (1995) Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: a meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychol Bull 117, 250270.
64Fonda SJ, Bertrand R, O'Donnell A, et al. (2005) Age, hormones, and cognitive functioning among middle-aged and elderly men: cross-sectional evidence from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 60, 385390.
65Moffat SD, Zonderman AB, Metter EJ, et al. (2002) Longitudinal assessment of serum free testosterone concentration predicts memory performance and cognitive status in elderly men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 87, 50015007.
66Yaffe K, Liu LY, Zmuda J, et al. (2002) Sex hormones and cognitive function in older men. J Am Geriatr Soc 50, 707712.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 12
Total number of PDF views: 126 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 348 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.