Male hormones affect reasoning, researcher says

November 14, 1991|By New York Times

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Men have better spatial ability when tested in spring than in autumn and the variation appears to be linked to seasonal fluctuations in male sex hormones, a scientist said today.

The findings conform with earlier, little-publicized research showing that men with low levels of testosterone perform better on tasks that involve spatial reasoning skills critical in much of mathematics. Earlier research has also shown that men's testosterone levels tend to be lower in the spring.

The findings reported at a scientific meeting yesterday are the first to link cognitive ability in men directly to seasonal cycles, said the researcher, Dr. Doreen Kimura, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario.

Four years ago, Dr. Kimura caused a storm of controversy when she reported that the cognitive ability of women fluctuated with hormone changes in monthly menstrual cycles. She said then that women were better at spatial tasks when their estrogen levels were lowest.

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