The role of androgen in the development of cognitive function and neural organization will be evaluated by studying patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an autosomal recessive disorder causing increased androgen production beginning prenatally. One hundred fifty patients (50 male and 50 female) will be compared to unaffected relatives and to demographically-matched controls. Abilities to be assessed include visuospatial abilities, mathematical abilities, verbal abilities, targeting abilities and general intelligence. Manifestations of neural organization to be assessed include hand preferences and language lateralization. Three competing hypotheses regarding the relationship of prenatal androgen to cognition will be evaluated: 1. Androgen promotes cognitive abilities at which males excel on average (mathematical problem solving, mental rotations abilities, spatial perception and targeting) and impairs those at which female excel on average (verbal fluency and perceptual speed and accuracy); 2. Androgen is associated with general intellectual enhancement; and 3. Androgen is associated with discrepancies between verbal and performance intelligence that have been interpreted to suggest learning disabilities. Hypotheses that prenatal androgen exposure is associated with masculine- typical patterns of neural organization, reflected in reduced right hand preferences and increased language lateralization, will also be assessed. Finally, structural equation models will be used to examine relationships between sex-typed activities in childhood and subsequent patterns of neural organization and cognitive function.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Biopsychology Study Section (BPO)
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Freund, Lisa S
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University of California Los Angeles
Other Domestic Higher Education
Los Angeles
United States
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Spencer, Debra; Pasterski, Vickie; Neufeld, Sharon et al. (2017) Prenatal androgen exposure and children's aggressive behavior and activity level. Horm Behav 96:156-165
Collaer, Marcia L; Hindmarsh, Peter C; Pasterski, Vickie et al. (2016) Reduced short term memory in congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and its relationship to spatial and quantitative performance. Psychoneuroendocrinology 64:164-73
Hines, Melissa; Pasterski, Vickie; Spencer, Debra et al. (2016) Prenatal androgen exposure alters girls' responses to information indicating gender-appropriate behaviour. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 371:20150125
Kung, Karson T F; Spencer, Debra; Pasterski, Vickie et al. (2016) No relationship between prenatal androgen exposure and autistic traits: convergent evidence from studies of children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and of amniotic testosterone concentrations in typically developing children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 57:1455-1462
Zhu, Xun; Bhatt, Ramesh S; Joseph, Jane E (2016) Pruning or tuning? Maturational profiles of face specialization during typical development. Brain Behav 6:e00464
Pasterski, Vickie; Zucker, Kenneth J; Hindmarsh, Peter C et al. (2015) Increased Cross-Gender Identification Independent of Gender Role Behavior in Girls with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: Results from a Standardized Assessment of 4- to 11-Year-Old Children. Arch Sex Behav 44:1363-75
Browne, Wendy V; Hindmarsh, Peter C; Pasterski, Vickie et al. (2015) Working memory performance is reduced in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Horm Behav 67:83-8
Wong, Wang I; Pasterski, Vickie; Hindmarsh, Peter C et al. (2013) Are there parental socialization effects on the sex-typed behavior of individuals with congenital adrenal hyperplasia? Arch Sex Behav 42:381-91
Pasterski, Vickie; Geffner, Mitchell E; Brain, Caroline et al. (2011) Prenatal hormones and childhood sex segregation: playmate and play style preferences in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Horm Behav 59:549-55
Hines, Melissa (2011) Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior. Front Neuroendocrinol 32:170-82

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