Abstract and Keywords
Organizational and activational effects of sex steroids were first discovered in laboratory animals, but these concepts extend to hormonal actions in the human central nervous system. This chapter begins with a brief overview of how sex steroids act in the brain and how the organizational-activational hypothesis originated in the field of endocrinology. It then reviews common methods used to study these effects in humans. Interestingly, certain cognitive functions appear to be subject to modification by sex steroids, and these endocrine influences may help explain the sex differences often seen in these functions. The chapter considers spatial cognition as a representative example because the spatial family of functions has received the most study by researchers interested in the biological roots of sex differences in cognition. The chapter reviews evidence that supports an influence of both androgens and estrogens on spatial functions, and concludes with a glimpse of where the field is headed.
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