Prenatal Testosterone in Mind: Amniotic Fluid Studies by Simon Baron-cohen;Svetlana Lutchmaya;Rebecca Knickmeyer

By Simon Baron-cohen;Svetlana Lutchmaya;Rebecca Knickmeyer

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The Geschwind Hypothesis has drawn attention to the importance of the prenatal environment to brain development, and ultimately psychological development. The Advantages of a Lateralized Brain Cerebral lateralization allows an individual to possess more skills than that individual would have if a given skill had to be replicated in both hemispheres. Modification of lateralization by prenatal factors allows for greater diversity than if lateralization were to be predetermined purely genetically.

1997). Skuse hypothesizes that social-communicative skills are due to the action of the imprinted locus. A predisposition to autism (due, perhaps, to low IQ, or to damage to the locus in females) impairs these skills. For a given cognitive domain, females are better than males, because males lack the imprinted locus. The same genetic liability to autism is worse for males than for females, because the male is already disadvantaged in that domain (Skuse 2000). Support for the imprinted X chromosome theory comes from a study by Creswell and Skuse (1999) that linked Turner’s Syndrome to autism for the first time.

An understanding of where these receptors exist (and when in development) can help clarify the action of prenatal hormones on the brain. One study of male and female rat brains revealed that the most consistent sex differences in androgen receptors were in the amygdala and the hypothalamus (Meaney, Aitken, Jensen, McGinnis, and McEwen 1985). A study of rhesus monkeys found evidence for androgen binding sites identical to those in the genital tract, in the arcuate lateral septal, premammillary and intercalated mammillary nuclei.

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