Laura Gravelsins' Research on Oral Contraceptives: What do we know about the effects on the brain?

April 1, 2019 by Department of Psychology

Laura Gravelsins, a PhD student with the Einstein Lab on cognitive neuroscience, gender and health, is studying how oral contraceptives affect working memory. Since the pill was introduced in the 1960s, studies have been conducted on how hormonal contraceptives impact a woman’s physical health, but there has been a significant gap in research on how the contraceptives affect how a woman thinks. Now, decades later, Laura’s research and that of other scientists, is addressing this question through an investigation of how oral contraceptives influence mood and cognition in women. In Laura’s study, the working memory of 60 young women are tested shortly after they take an oral contraceptive, when hormone levels spike, and again 24 hours later, when these levels have declined. Their performance changes as the hormones are metabolized is then examined. Read more about Laura’s study and other research on this neglected area of women’s health in The Globe and Mail (April 1, 2019).