Prenatal testosterone, visual-spatial memory, and numerical skills in young children

Rebecca Bull, Wendy Anne Davidson, Emily Nordmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Lateralization of the brain is strongly influenced by prenatal androgens, with differential exposure thought to account for cognitive sex differences. This study investigated sex and individual differences and relationships between 2D:4D (the ratio of the 2nd to 4th digit [digit ratio] as a proxy indicator of prenatal testosterone exposure), visual-spatial memory, and numerical skills in 5-year-old children. No sex differences were found in any of the numerical or visual-spatial tasks. Visual-spatial memory was positively correlated with arithmetic score. Girls with a lower (more masculinised) 2D:4D had better number sense and visual-spatial skills, whilst boys with lower 20:40 had better arithmetic skills. This suggests that prenatal testosterone exposure may have differential effects on the visual-spatial and numerical skills of girls and boys

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-250
Number of pages5
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number3
Early online date16 Dec 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • digit ratio
  • 2D:4D
  • visual-spatial
  • mathematics
  • number
  • testosterone
  • finger-length ratios
  • 4th digit ratio
  • gender-differences
  • sex-differences
  • mental rotation
  • number sense
  • cognitive-ability
  • performance
  • 2D-4D
  • achievement


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