There is considerable interest in the organizational effects of pubertal sex hormones on human sex-related characteristics. Recent evidence from rodents suggests that there is a decreasing window of sensitivity to sex hormones throughout adolescence. If adolescence also represents a period of brain organization in human beings, then the timing of exposure to sex-typical hormones at puberty should have long-term effects on sex-typed characteristics: individuals with early timing should be more sex-typed than individuals with late timing. We tested this hypothesis in 320 young adults by relating their pubertal timing (retrospective comparison to peers) to cognitive abilities that show sex differences. Results provide partial support for the hypothesis. For men, pubertal timing was inversely related to scores on a test of three-dimensional mental rotations. Effects do not appear to be due to duration of hormone exposure (time since puberty), but other potential influences need further study.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience