It’s been well established that men perform better than women when it comes to specific spatial tasks. But how much of that is linked to sex hormones versus cultural conditioning and other factors? __ SD
Testosterone Helps One to Quickly Find His Way
Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology compared the route finding abilities of men vs. women on a 3D maze skills test. The men were faster and solved 50% more of the tasks set out for them. Men used their hippocampi more, while women used their prefrontal cortices. __ Source
Overall, men in the test group had significantly better senses of direction than the women in the test group.
The scientists went on to compare two different groups of women on “wayfinding tasks.” One group received a drop of testosterone solution under the tongue. The other group received placebo. Not surprisingly, the women who received testosterone performed better than the women who received placebo. Interestingly, the women who received testosterone also utilised their hippocampi more than the placebo women. __ Source
What About Testosterone and Male-Female Differences in Language Skills?
When women (undergoing sex change) are given high doses of testosterone, the parts of their brain most used in language tasks are altered.
The researchers, from Vienna and Amsterdam, worked with 18
female-to-male subjects (27.6 ± 6.4 years), before and during testosterone treatment. The subjects underwent MRI brain scans before and after 4 weeks of the testosterone administration. The results showed that with testosterone treatment the volume of grey matter decreased in two specific regions of the brain, the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, which are mainly responsible for language processing. At the same time, the neuronal pathway (white matter) connecting these two regions via the extreme capsule got stronger. __ https://www.ecnp.eu/~/media/Files/ecnp/About%20ECNP/Press/AMS2015/Hahn%20PR%20FINAL.pdf?la=en
So, when women are given a single dose of sublingual testosterone, their spatial abilities are temporarily improved — although not to the point of equaling spatial abilities in males. And when females are given even larger doses of testosterone over time, the parts of their brain used in language processing lose grey matter volume.
Testosterone and Behaviour
Testosterone appears to influence the typical superiority of males in spatial processing and math, and the superiority of females in language processing and emotional empathy.
Most of the published literature agrees on the fact that testosterone is anxiolytic, anti-depressant and improves spatial abilities. But this picture is oversimplified.
… More systematic research using the whole spectrum of available tools and looking at the various physiological aspects is needed. __ http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnins.2015.00012/full
There are too many factors involved in the production, utilisation, and metabolism / excretion of testosterone to recommend testosterone supplementation for persons with normal levels. But for persons with distinctly low testosterone levels — men or women — there are some good indications for testosterone supplementation.
Why are there More Male Geniuses?
… at a super-elite University such as Oxford, where we are looking at a tiny proportion of the brightest students, we would expect there to be more males achieving 1st class degrees. It is not fair but it is also not a mystery. It is a consequence of the male genome (particularly the short Y chromosome), which causes greater genetic variations in men, leading to both good and bad extremes of male behaviour.
… we see more male geniuses and more male dunces in the real world. Try this simple thought experiment. Name 10 female geniuses from any period in history. This is not easy.
There are more male geniuses and more male morons. Presumably this is somehow a consequence of the male genome vis a vis the female genome. And presumably it also has something to do with testosterone.
More On Testosterone
We started off with about 500 of these babies, that’s the cohort, where their testosterone levels are known [from amniocentesis], and we’ve been following them and they’re now about 12 years old. So it’s a story that’s been unfolding whilst we’ve been able to measure the behavior as they grow, and see whether it has anything to do with their testosterone prenatally.
At their first birthday, we looked at eye contact. And I was particularly interested in this, because my main area of research is autism, and children with autism make very little eye contact. Their eye contact is at the extreme, showing very little interest in faces. But we’d already heard from that newborn baby study that there seems to be, on average, a sex difference in how interested people are in faces, and making eye contact, with girls being, on average, more interested in faces than boys, but there’s a whole spectrum of individual differences. And what we found was that the higher the baby’s prenatal testosterone, the less eye contact they made at their first birthday. That was simply measured by inviting the toddler into our lab, videotaping them and then later coding those videotapes for how many times the baby looked up at their mother’s face. That was at the first birthday.
At the second birthday we looked at language development. We got parents to fill in a checklist of how many words does your child know, and how many words can your child produce. We were looking at the size of children’s vocabularies. What we found, which was quite striking to us, was that by two years old, there were some children who had very small vocabularies, only about ten or 20 words, they were kind of at the low edge of normal development; and there were some kids who were really chatty and had 600 words. So the size of the differences in vocabulary was immense. And then we could look back at their testosterone levels.And once again, we found a significant correlation: that the higher the child’s prenatal testosterone, the smaller their vocabulary at two years old. So this same hormone seemed to be related not only to patterns of social interest, whether you look at faces, but also to communication, how talkative you are and your rate of language development.
I don’t want to go through all the steps, but we’ve also looked, when they were four years old, at empathy, finding that prenatal testosterone is negatively correlated with empathy. So again, it’s the same pattern we were just hearing about: that if you were higher in testosterone during the pregnancy, it meant that you were slower to develop empathy as a four year old. And again, there are different ways that you can measure that. You can ask parents to fill in questionnaires about their child’s empathy. You can actually get the child to take various empathy tests, or you can also get information about how easily the child mixes in school with other children. But the hormone, once again, was showing relationships with social behavior at school age.
We were also interested in that concept of systemizing, how strong a child’s interest was in systems of different kinds. Was this a child who liked to collect things, to have the complete set, for example, that makes up a system? Was this a child who loved to take things apart and put them back together again? So, very much interested in construction and assembly and figuring out how things work? Was this a child who spotted the small differences between different makes of cars, or little toy cars, and could tell you the differences between different varieties of system? Again, what we found, but this time the correlation was flipped over, was a positive correlation with prenatal testosterone. The higher the child’s prenatal testosterone the more interested they were in systems of one kind or another.
When they were about eight years old, we figured it was time to invite these kids into the MRI scanner, so that we could look directly at the question of whether testosterone is actually changing the way the brain is developing. Up until now we’d only done what’s called behavioral studies, where we could find relationships between testosterone and behavior. But by eight years old a child is old enough to stay still, which is essential in a brain scan, because if the child squirms and moves around too much, then you can’t interpret the results. These children, by eight, were able to tolerate having an MRI scan and we were able to look at the structure of the brain and see if it had any relationship to prenatal testosterone. And in fact, there are lots of interesting relationships.
As I mentioned, one region of the brain that differs between males and females is that region called the planum temporale, a language area, and that’s related to prenatal testosterone. The hormone is having an effect on the way the brain is growing, just looking at the volume of different regions in the brain. __ Simon Baron-Cohen
So you see that brain differences between males and females are at least partially mediated by testosterone levels — but particularly testosterone levels during the fetal period, when the brain is being most actively shaped.
The radical feminists who rule over modern universities, much of modern media, and much of mid-level bureaucratic organisations such as governments, foundations, government lobbies, inter-governmental and non-governmental bodies, etc., will deny that testosterone levels during pre-natal periods, early childhood, or adolescence, have anything to do with male-female differences in genius, IQ distribution, spatial / math abilities, or anything else.
And yet, these same feminists — when they start to wither and age — are among the first to clamour for testosterone treatments. And testosterone is very popular among the middle aged and older female set:
http://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122%2813%2900012-1/fulltext : A scientific manifesto in favour of testosterone therapy for women
http://www.yourtango.com/experts/mark-dilworth/7-reasons-women-need-testosterone/ : A popular manifesto boosting testosterone for women
These treatments can be helpful for the middle-aged and elderly of either sex. But such therapies for women cannot erase the male-female achievement gaps across a broad range of disciplines — from physicists to neurosurgeons to inventors to ace pilots to world class athletes, and more.
Perhaps if testosterone were administered at strategic points in fetal development, early childhood, and in adolescence, such gaps might be partially narrowed. But that would not be wise.
I suggest that we should let girls be girls, boys be boys, and give them both the best chances we can to grow up strong, independent, and competent.
Decline of Russian Testosterone and Sperm Count is Devastating
Both the quantity and quality of Russian men seem to be on a downward turn. Plummeting sperm counts and testosterone levels with falling levels of academic attainment are reducing the Soviet hero of old into an ever more effete and infertile figure, who now can’t even drink properly.
In fact, the Russian man is dying out. Only the UK flounder, North Sea cod and Florida cane toad are losing males faster, and the unhappy conclusions of scientists show that falling numbers of males in these species has led to irreversible cuts in the population.
… The Russian man is subsequently withering before our eyes. He has worse health than women and his educational attainment is worse. Worldwide, suicide rates peak in men in old age. In Russia it peaks twice, in the mid-life crisis years of 45-55 years and the second for the long-lived, at 70-80. __ Importance of Testosterone to National Survival
Decline in male Russian testosterone levels parallels Russia’s overall decline in international strength and vitality.
…in the countries of the former Soviet Union… [they] are experiencing a huge deficit of single, decent, non-drinking, not abusive, marriage minded, family oriented men. There is a large number of Russian women who have absolutely no chance of ever getting married and having a family of their own unless they significantly lower their standards… __ quoted in “Few Good Men Left in Dying Russia”
Some of the same mechanisms that are bedeviling Russian males are also at work in much of the rest of the world’s male populations. Guard your testosterone levels and sperm quality carefully. You never know when you will need them.