Early Androgen Effects on Spatial and Mechanical Abilities: Evidence From Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
Behavioral Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 2.63). 02/2012; 126(1):86-96. DOI: 10.1037/a0026652
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There is considerable controversy about the origins of sex differences in cognitive abilities, particularly the male superiority in spatial abilities. We studied effects of early androgens on spatial and mechanical abilities in adolescents and young adults with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). On tests of three-dimensional mental rotations, geography, and mechanical knowledge, females with CAH scored higher than their unaffected sisters, and males with CAH scored lower than their unaffected brothers. Exploratory regression analyses suggest that androgens affect spatial ability in females directly and through male-typed activity interests. Findings indicate that early androgens influence spatial and mechanical abilities, and that androgen effects on abilities may occur in part through effects on sex-typed activity interests.

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