Salivary testosterone does not predict mental rotation performance in men or women

David A. Puts, Rodrigo A. Cárdenas, Drew H. Bailey, Robert P. Burriss, Cynthia L. Jordan, S. Marc Breedlove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Multiple studies report relationships between circulating androgens and performance on sexually differentiated spatial cognitive tasks in human adults, yet other studies find no such relationships. Relatively small sample sizes are a likely source of some of these discrepancies. The present study thus tests for activational effects of testosterone (T) using a within-participants design by examining relationships between diurnal fluctuations in salivary T and performance on a male-biased spatial cognitive task (Mental Rotation Task) in the largest sample yet collected: 160 women and 177 men. T concentrations were unrelated to within-sex variation in mental rotation performance in both sexes. Further, between-session learning-related changes in performance were unrelated to T levels, and circadian changes in T were unrelated to changes in spatial performance in either sex. These results suggest that circulating T does not contribute substantially to sex differences in spatial ability in young men and women. By elimination, the contribution of androgens to sex differences in human performance on these tasks may be limited to earlier, organizational periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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