ISG Visiting Scholar, Melissa Hines, published the article, “Gonadal Hormone Influences on Human Neurobehavioral Development: Outcomes and Mechanisms” in the book Multiple Origins of Sex Differences in Brain edited by Donald Pfaff and Yves Christen.
Abstract: Testosterone exposure during early development has enduring influences on mammalian behavior, increasing male-typical characteristics and decreasing female-typical characteristics. Research in non-human mammals indicates that testosterone also influences development of the mammalian brain, affecting programmed cell death, anatomical connectivity and neurochemical specification, and these neural changes, which occur during early development, are thought to explain the subsequent behavioral changes. The strongest evidence linking prenatal testosterone exposure to human behavioral sexual differentiation has come from studies of children’s sex-typed play. There also is substantial evidence linking early testosterone exposure to sexual orientation and to core gender identity and some evidence linking such hormone exposure to physically aggressive behavior and to empathy. However, for most, perhaps all, human behaviors that show sex differences, other factors, including socialization, also play a role, and the magnitude of this role appears to vary across behavioral outcomes. In addition, in contrast to other species, the acquisition of sex-typical behavior in humans involves social-cognitive mechanisms related to gender identification. This chapter will suggest that these social-cognitive mechanisms could be involved in the developmental cascade of processes linking early testosterone exposure to sexual differentiation of human behavior.