Does early androgen exposure moderate developmental plasticity?
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Little is known about what mechanisms allow some individuals more than others to flexibly develop cognitive competencies and behavioral biases while growing up to better meet the demands of their ecology, a phenomenon known as developmental plasticity. Since many traits are found to be more variable in men than women and because men tend to exhibit greater developmental plasticity than women, Del Giudice et al. (2018) proposed that early androgen exposure may moderate developmental plasticity in both sexes in traits that vary more in men. The associated hypothesis that higher perinatal androgen exposure will enhance responsivity to the environment was tested. Using digit ratio (a well-known measure of perinatal androgen exposure) to predict how strongly early spatial experiences impacted the development of adult spatial ability and sensory processing sensitivity, four separate tests failed to support the hypothesis. Limitations of the tests are discussed.
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