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Understanding Other MindsPerspectives from developmental social neuroscience$
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Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael Lombardo, and Helen Tager-Flusberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.001.0001

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Prenatal and postnatal testosterone effects on human social and emotional behavior

Prenatal and postnatal testosterone effects on human social and emotional behavior

Chapter:
(p.308) Chapter 17 Prenatal and postnatal testosterone effects on human social and emotional behavior
Source:
Understanding Other Minds
Author(s):

Bonnie Auyeung

Simon Baron-Cohen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.003.0017

This chapter examines the role of the hormone testosterone in the development of social cognition. Research findings from human studies designed to elucidate the behavioral effects of both prenatal and postnatal testosterone exposure in children and young adults are summarized. Effects are found to be both time and dose dependent, with exposure to abnormal hormone levels having a limited impact outside the 'critical window' in development. Particular attention is given to the role of prenatal hormone exposure, which appears to be vital for early organization of the brain. In later life, measurements of circulating hormone levels and the administration of testosterone are found to predict behavior, but the effect is thought to be one of 'activation' or 'fine-tuning' of the early organization of the brain. Possible directions for valuable future research are discussed.

Keywords:   Prenatal testosterone, postnatal testosterone, sex differences, social development, mentalizing, theory of mind, empathy, autistic traits, amniotic fluid, amniocentesis, oxytocin

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