Essay Example on Testosterone Cognition and Gender









Testosterone Cognition and Gender Testosterone is responsible for the expression of characteristically male phenotypes such as smaller digit ratios Manning Scutt Wilson Lewis Jones 1998 but does it have influence upon cognition Baron Cohen 2002 proposed that autistic people have an EMB or extreme male brain meaning they are exposed to greater amounts of prenatal steroidogenic activity Testosterone than those without an ASD or autistic spectrum disorder Baron Cohen et al 2015 Baron Cohen et al 2010 suggested that on average females are more likely to empathise than males and males more likely to be systematized Those with autism score below average on the EQ or Empathy Quotient and above average on MR tasks such as the Intuitive Physics Test IPT Testosterone is thought to be the root cause of this as it inhibits left hemispheric growth therefore lateralizing male brains to the right the latter responsible for spatial and mental rotation or MR tasks and former for communication or empathy Beking et al 2018 On MR tasks males score significantly higher than females Zapf Glindemann Vogeley Falter 2015 suggesting that this lateralisation exists in those exposed to greater amounts of prenatal testosterone 

Few studies have considered the bi directionality of testosterone across genders on cognition and biological factors instead only measures of cognitive ability have been compared to assume biological differences i e Baron Cohen et al 2010 In the current study biological and cognitive factors will be analysed allowing increased causality in conclusions Digit ratio will be used as an indicator of testosterone its relationship to EQ scores and mental rotation scores will be analysed to test if increased prenatal steroidogenic activity leads to gender differences in cognition specifically mental rotation A significant negative correlation between EQ scores and mental rotation scores was predicted despite gender As well as a significant positive correlation between EQ scores and digit ratio regardless of gender This would exemplify that testosterone directly affects cognition Method Participants A total of 40 participants were used 50 male and 50 female Age of the sample ranged from 18 19 years mean age 18 1 years Opportunistic sampling was used for its quick and effective ability to provide data Selectivity was utilised to obtain an even number of participants across gender groups avoiding androcentric results Materials and procedures Participants were approached in person by researchers If consent was obtained through a standardised form digit ratios were measured immediately as they were unlikely to be affected by extraneous factors Digit ratios were collected by measuring the index finger 2D and the ring finger 4D then dividing 2D by 4D to find 2D 4D the digit ratio Participants were also asked if they could complete two online tests and email the results back to the researcher Confidentiality was assured and validity more likely as participants completed the tests in their own environments

The two tests were an EQ and a mental rotation task A short sixty question version of Baron Cohen Wheelwright s 2004 was used so as to increase the likelihood of valid information by preventing order effects This questionnaire asked various questions to assess empathy using a scale of Strongly agree to Strongly disagree An independent measures design was used for this experiment comparing genders using digit ratio EQ scores and mental rotation scores the independent variable was gender and dependent variables individual s scores These data were used to find relationships between empathy and mental rotation in both genders and the correlation between digit ratio and mental rotation scores assessing testosterones effect on cognition Results A total of n 40 were used n 20 in each group No data was lost due to anomalous results and no outliers were found in any condition There was a significant negative correlation between female EQ scores and mental rotation rs 901 p 0 01 and male s alike rs 763 p 0 01 as EQ scores increased mental rotation decreased This relates to testosterone levels by comparing digit ratio scores prenatal testosterone exposure to EQ and mental rotation scores In both females rs 828 p 0 01 and males rs 917 p 0 01 positive correlations between digit ratio and empathy show that increased testosterone leads to significantly lower empathy scores and higher scores on mental rotation tasks exemplified by significant negative correlations for females rs 793 p 0 01 and males rs 829 p 0 01 mean digit ratio for females was greater than that of males 1 00 0 85 displaying a gender difference in amounts of testosterone however the correlations suggest testosterone levels are a significant factor in mental rotation to confidence level 0 01 gender is only a predictor of testosterone levels

The null hypotheses were rejected and both experimental hypotheses were accepted Discussion The results show that testosterone has a significant effect on cognitive ability the more testosterone an individual is exposed to prenatal affected empathising negatively and increased efficiency in MR tasks therefore suggesting testosterone did have a significant effect on cognitive functions bi directionality across genders was observed as effects of testosterone stayed the same across genders The only gender difference observed was overall average levels of testosterone Overall these results suggest the EMB theory Baron Cohen 2002 has validity Testosterone must affect brain lateralisation resulting in differences in cognition exemplified by the phenomenon observed in this study However some consideration should be placed on environmental factors as this was only a correlation other factors could confound the results Practicing mental rotation or empathy related activities may Increase efficiency and therefore testosterone may only be a partial factor in the efficacy of these cognitive functions In future research should aim to find new and more biologically specific ways of studying testosterone's effects on brain hardwiring and its relation to neural plasticity to fully observe it s influence upon cognition

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