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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effect of Oral Hormonal Contraceptives on the Ease of Recall of an Emotional Autobiographical Memory


Over 100 million people worldwide use oral hormonal contraception (OC), and yet there is still little knowledge surrounding the consequences of contraceptives on the human brain. In particular, the intersection of autobiographical memories, stress, and OC is important to study for real-world applicability. Previous research has shown that women on OC demonstrate a negativity bias when recalling an event by reporting more information for negative experiences compared to other emotional situations. This negativity bias could be an indication of the ease of recall which is defined by the speed, accuracy, and intensity of the memory search. The present study examined the reported ease of autobiographical recall of OC users compared to those who are naturally cycling (NC) for negative and neutral events. It was predicted that those on OC would report an easier time recalling a stressful event and report less difficulty for the neutral event compared to NC women. There were no significant differences between those who are NC and on OC in terms of ease of recall ratings for either event. However, within NC women rated remembering negative events more easily than neutral. Suggestions for future studies are discussed.

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