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Testosterone: Activation or organization of spatial cognition?

Authors
Journal
Biological Psychology
0301-0511
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
73
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.01.011
Keywords
  • Second-To-Fourth Digit Ratio
  • Prenatal Steroids
  • Current Testosterone Levels
  • Spatial Cognition

Abstract

Abstract Previous studies in animals have revealed effects of both prenatal and current testosterone on brain organization and behavior. However, it is unclear how these effects translate to the human brain. Here, we refine previous procedures to clarify the relative contribution of prenatal versus current testosterone indices to cognitive function. Sixty-nine subjects performed four computerized tasks measuring mental rotation, targeting, figure-disembedding and perceptual discrimination. Using stepwise regression analyses, performance was related to free testosterone assayed in saliva samples and to second-to-fourth finger length ratios (2 D:4 D), a putative index of prenatal testosterone exposure. The exclusive predictor for mental rotation was found to be sex, while 2 D:4 D was found to be the sole predictor of targeting, exhibiting a curvilinear relation, and figure-disembedding performance, showing a linear relation. These findings suggest a substantial role for prenatal testosterone but not current testosterone in determining cognitive performance.

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