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Natural variation in female reproductive hormones does not affect contrast sensitivity.

Webb, Abigail LM and Hibbard, Paul B and O'Gorman, Rick (2018) 'Natural variation in female reproductive hormones does not affect contrast sensitivity.' Royal Society Open Science, 5 (2). ISSN 2054-5703

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Abstract

Evidence suggests that females experience adaptive shifts in facial preferences across the menstrual cycle. However, recent discussions and meta-analyses suggest that these findings are equivocal. A previously unexplored question is the extent to which shifts in female preferences are modulated by hormone-dependent changes occurring in low-level vision, such as visual sensitivity. This mechanistic approach has been a novel method for investigating the extent to which complex perceptual phenomena are driven by low-level versus higher-level perceptual processes. We investigated whether the contrast sensitivity function-an early dimension of vision-is also influenced by variation in female reproductive hormones. Visual contrast thresholds were measured for 1, 4 and 16 cycles/degree gratings during the ovulatory, luteal and menstrual phases of the menstrual cycle in naturally cycling women, and women using oral contraceptives. Male participants were tested at similar time intervals. Results showed that visual contrast sensitivity does not differ according to sex, or use of oral contraception, nor does it vary relative to hormonal shifts across the menstrual cycle. These findings suggest that shifts in female preferences are not driven by changes in visual sensitivity, and are therefore likely attributable to changes in higher-level perception or cognition.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2018 11:43
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2018 11:43
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21738

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