Die Wirkung von Testosteron

Der englische Wikipedia Artikel zu Testosteron gibt einen guten Überblick über die durch Testosteron bewirkten Effekte:

In general, androgens such as testosterone promote protein synthesis and thus growth of tissues with androgen receptors.[11]Testosterone can be described as having virilising and anabolic effects (though these categorical descriptions are somewhat arbitrary, as there is a great deal of mutual overlap between them).[12]

Testosterone effects can also be classified by the age of usual occurrence. For postnataleffects in both males and females, these are mostly dependent on the levels and duration of circulating free testosterone.

Before birth

Effects before birth are divided into two categories, classified in relation to the stages of development.

The first period occurs between 4 and 6 weeks of the gestation. Examples include genital virilisation such as midline fusion, phallic urethrascrotal thinning and rugation, and phallic enlargement; although the role of testosterone is far smaller than that of dihydrotestosterone. There is also development of the prostate gland and seminal vesicles.

During the second trimester, androgen level is associated with sex formation.[13] This period affects the femininization or masculinization of the fetus and can be a better predictor of feminine or masculine behaviours such as sex typed behaviour than an adult’s own levels. A mother’s testosterone level during pregnancy is correlated with her daughter’s sex-typical behavior as an adult, and the correlation is even stronger than with the daughter’s own adult testosterone level.[14]

Early infancy

Early infancy androgen effects are the least understood. In the first weeks of life for male infants, testosterone levels rise. The levels remain in a pubertal range for a few months, but usually reach the barely detectable levels of childhood by 4–7 months of age.[15][16] The function of this rise in humans is unknown. It has been theorized that brain masculinizationis occurring since no significant changes have been identified in other parts of the body.[17]The male brain is masculinized by the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen, which crosses the blood–brain barrier and enters the male brain, whereas female fetuses have α-fetoprotein, which binds the estrogen so that female brains are not affected.[18]

Before puberty

Before puberty effects of rising androgen levels occur in both boys and girls. These include adult-type body odor, increased oiliness of skin and hair, acnepubarche(appearance of pubic hair), axillary hair(armpit hair), growth spurt, accelerated bone maturation, and facial hair.[19]


Pubertal effects begin to occur when androgen has been higher than normal adult female levels for months or years. In males, these are usual late pubertal effects, and occur in women after prolonged periods of heightened levels of free testosterone in the blood. The effects include:[19][20]

Growth of spermatogenic tissue in testicles, male fertilitypenis or clitoris enlargement, increased libido and frequency of erection or clitoral engorgement. Growth of jaw, brow, chin, nose, and remodeling of facial bone contours, in conjunction with human growth hormone.[21] Completion of bone maturation and termination of growth. This occurs indirectly via estradiol metabolites and hence more gradually in men than women. Increased muscle strength and mass, shoulders become broader and rib cage expands, deepening of voice, growth of the Adam’s apple. Enlargement of sebaceous glands. This might cause acne, subcutaneous fat in face decreases. Pubic hair extends to thighs and up toward umbilicus, development of facial hair (sideburnsbeardmoustache), loss of scalp hair (androgenetic alopecia), increase in chest hair, periareolar hair, perianal hair, leg hairarmpit hair.


Testosterone is necessary for normal spermdevelopment. It activates genes in Sertoli cells, which promote differentiation of spermatogonia. It regulates acute HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis) response under dominance challenge.[22]Androgen including testosterone enhances muscle growth. Testosterone also regulates the population of thromboxane A2 receptors on megakaryocytes and platelets and hence platelet aggregation in humans.[23][24]

Adult testosterone effects are more clearly demonstrable in males than in females, but are likely important to both sexes. Some of these effects may decline as testosterone levels might decrease in the later decades of adult life.[25]

Health risksEdit

Testosterone does not appear to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. In people who have undergone testosterone deprivation therapy, testosterone increases beyond the castrate level have been shown to increase the rate of spread of an existing prostate cancer.[26][27][28]

Conflicting results have been obtained concerning the importance of testosterone in maintaining cardiovascular health.[29][30]Nevertheless, maintaining normal testosterone levels in elderly men has been shown to improve many parameters that are thought to reduce cardiovascular disease risk, such as increased lean body mass, decreased visceral fat mass, decreased total cholesterol, and glycemic control.[31]

High androgen levels are associated with menstrual cycle irregularities in both clinical populations and healthy women.[32]

Sexual arousalEdit

When testosterone and endorphins in ejaculated semen meet the cervical wall after sexual intercourse, females receive a spike in testosterone, endorphin, and oxytocin levels, and males after orgasm during copulation experience an increase in endorphins and a marked increase in oxytocin levels. This adds to the hospitable physiological environment in the female internal reproductive tract for conceiving, and later for nurturing the conceptus in the pre-embryonic stages, and stimulates feelings of love, desire, and paternal care in the male (this is the only time male oxytocin levels rival a female’s).[citation needed]

Testosterone levels follow a nyctohemeral rhythm that peaks early each day, regardless of sexual activity.[33]

There are positive correlations between positive orgasm experience in women and testosterone levels where relaxation was a key perception of the experience. There is no correlation between testosterone and men’s perceptions of their orgasm experience, and also no correlation between higher testosterone levels and greater sexual assertiveness in either sex.[34]

Sexual arousal and masturbation in women produce small increases in testosterone concentrations.[35] The plasma levels of various steroids significantly increase after masturbation in men and the testosterone levels correlate to those levels.[36]

Mammalian studies

Studies conducted in rats have indicated that their degree of sexual arousal is sensitive to reductions in testosterone. When testosterone-deprived rats were given medium levels of testosterone, their sexual behaviors (copulation, partner preference, etc.) resumed, but not when given low amounts of the same hormone. Therefore, these mammals may provide a model for studying clinical populations among humans suffering from sexual arousal deficits such as hypoactive sexual desire disorder.[37]

In every mammalian species examined demonstrated a marked increase in a male’s testosterone level upon encountering a novelfemale. The reflexive testosterone increases in male mice is related to the male’s initial level of sexual arousal.[38]

In non-human primates, it may be that testosterone in puberty stimulates sexual arousal, which allows the primate to increasingly seek out sexual experiences with females and thus creates a sexual preference for females.[39] Some research has also indicated that if testosterone is eliminated in an adult male human or other adult male primate’s system, its sexual motivation decreases, but there is no corresponding decrease in ability to engage in sexual activity (mounting, ejaculating, etc.).[39]

In accordance with sperm competition theory, testosterone levels are shown to increase as a response to previously neutral stimuli when conditioned to become sexual in male rats.[40]This reaction engages penile reflexes (such as erection and ejaculation) that aid in sperm competition when more than one male is present in mating encounters, allowing for more production of successful sperm and a higher chance of reproduction.


In men, higher levels of testosterone are associated with periods of sexual activity.[41]Testosterone also increased in heterosexual men after having had a brief conversation with a woman. The increase in testosterone levels was associated with the degree that the women thought the men were trying to impress them.[42]

Men who watch a sexually explicit movie have an average increase of 35% in testosterone, peaking at 60–90 minutes after the end of the film, but no increase is seen in men who watch sexually neutral films.[43] Men who watch sexually explicit films also report increased motivation, competitiveness, and decreased exhaustion.[44] A link has also been found between relaxation following sexual arousal and testosterone levels.[45]

Men’s levels of testosterone, a hormone known to affect men’s mating behaviour, changes depending on whether they are exposed to an ovulating or nonovulating woman’s body odour. Men who are exposed to scents of ovulating women maintained a stable testosterone level that was higher than the testosterone level of men exposed to nonovulation cues. Testosterone levels and sexual arousal in men are heavily aware of hormone cycles in females.[46] This may be linked to the ovulatory shift hypothesis,[47]where males are adapted to respond to the ovulation cycles of females by sensing when they are most fertile and whereby females look for preferred male mates when they are the most fertile; both actions may be driven by hormones.


Androgens may modulate the physiology of vaginal tissue and contribute to female genital sexual arousal.[48] Women’s level of testosterone is higher when measured pre-intercourse vs pre-cuddling, as well as post-intercourse vs post-cuddling.[49] There is a time lag effect when testosterone is administered, on genital arousal in women. In addition, a continuous increase in vaginal sexual arousal may result in higher genital sensations and sexual appetitive behaviors.[50]

When females have a higher baseline level of testosterone, they have higher increases in sexual arousal levels but smaller increases in testosterone, indicating a ceiling effect on testosterone levels in females. Sexual thoughts also change the level of testosterone but not level of cortisol in the female body, and hormonal contraceptives may affect the variation in testosterone response to sexual thoughts.[51]

Testosterone may prove to be an effective treatment in female sexual arousal disorders,[52] and is available as a dermal patch. There is no FDA approved androgen preparation for the treatment of androgen insufficiency; however, it has been used off-label to treat low libido and sexual dysfunction in older women. Testosterone may be a treatment for postmenopausal women as long as they are effectively estrogenized.[52]

Romantic relationships

Falling in love decreases men’s testosterone levels while increasing women’s testosterone levels. There has been speculation that these changes in testosterone result in the temporary reduction of differences in behavior between the sexes.[53] However, it is suggested that after the „honeymoon phase“ ends—about four years into a relationship—this change in testosterone levels is no longer apparent.[53] Men who produce less testosterone are more likely to be in a relationship[54] or married,[55] and men who produce more testosterone are more likely to divorce;[55] however, causality cannot be determined in this correlation. Marriage or commitment could cause a decrease in testosterone levels.[56] Single men who have not had relationship experience have lower testosterone levels than single men with experience. It is suggested that these single men with prior experience are in a more competitive state than their non-experienced counterparts.[57] Married men who engage in bond-maintenance activities such as spending the day with their spouse/and or child have no different testosterone levels compared to times when they do not engage in such activities. Collectively, these results suggest that the presence of competitive activities rather than bond-maintenance activities are more relevant to changes in testosterone levels.[58]

Men who produce more testosterone are more likely to engage in extramarital sex.[55]Testosterone levels do not rely on physical presence of a partner; testosterone levels of men engaging in same-city and long-distance relationships are similar.[54] Physical presence may be required for women who are in relationships for the testosterone–partner interaction, where same-city partnered women have lower testosterone levels than long-distance partnered women.[59]


Fatherhood also decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the resulting emotional and behavioral changes promote paternal care.[60] The way testosterone levels change when a child is in distress is indicative of fathering styles. If the levels reduce, then there is more empathy by the father than in fathers whose levels go up.[61]


Testosterone levels play a major role in risk-taking during financial decisions.[62][63]

Aggression and criminality

Most studies support a link between adult criminality and testosterone, although the relationship is modest if examined separately for each sex. Nearly all studies of juvenile delinquency and testosterone are not significant. Most studies have also found testosterone to be associated with behaviors or personality traits linked with criminality such as antisocial behavior and alcoholism. Many studies have also been done on the relationship between more general aggressive behavior/feelings and testosterone. About half the studies have found a relationship and about half no relationship.[64]

Testosterone is only one of many factors that influence aggression and the effects of previous experience and environmental stimuli have been found to correlate more strongly. A few studies indicate that the testosterone derivative estradiol (one form of estrogen) might play an important role in male aggression.[64][65][66][67] Studies have also found that testosterone facilitates aggression by modulating vasopressin receptors in the hypothalamus.[68]

The sexual hormone can encourage fair behavior. For the study subjects took part in a behavioral experiment where the distribution of a real amount of money was decided. The rules allowed both fair and unfair offers. The negotiating partner could subsequently accept or decline the offer. The fairer the offer, the less probable a refusal by the negotiating partner. If no agreement was reached, neither party earned anything. Test subjects with an artificially enhanced testosterone level generally made better, fairer offers than those who received placebos, thus reducing the risk of a rejection of their offer to a minimum. Two later studies have empirically confirmed these results.[69][70][71]However men with high testosterone were significantly 27% less generous in an ultimatum game.[72] The Annual NY Academy of Sciences has also found anabolic steroid use which increase testosterone to be higher in teenagers, and this was associated with increased violence.[73] Studies have also found administered testosterone to increase verbal aggression and anger in some participants.[74]

Testosterone is significantly correlated with aggression and competitive behaviour and is directly facilitated by the latter. There are two theories on the role of testosterone in aggression and competition.[75] The first one is the challenge hypothesis which states that testosterone would increase during puberty thus facilitating reproductive and competitive behaviour which would include aggression.[75]Thus it is the challenge of competition among males of the species that facilitates aggression and violence.[75] Studies conducted have found direct correlation between testosterone and dominance especially among the most violent criminals in prison who had the highest testosterone levels.[75] The same research also found fathers (those outside competitive environments) had the lowest testosterone levels compared to other males.[75]

The second theory is similar and is known as „evolutionary neuroandrogenic (ENA) theory of male aggression“.[76][77] Testosterone and other androgens have evolved to masculinize a brain in order to be competitive even to the point of risking harm to the person and others. By doing so, individuals with masculinized brains as a result of pre-natal and adult life testosterone and androgens enhance their resource acquiring abilities in order to survive, attract and copulate with mates as much as possible.[76] The masculinization of the brain is not just mediated by testosterone levels at the adult stage, but also testosterone exposure in the womb as a fetus. Higher pre-natal testosterone indicated by a low digit ratio as well as adult testosterone levels increased risk of fouls or aggression among male players in a soccer game.[78] Studies have also found higher pre-natal testosterone or lower digit ratio to be correlated with higher aggression in males.[79][80][81][82][83]

The rise in testosterone levels during competition predicted aggression in males but not in females.[84] Subjects who interacted with hand guns and an experimental game showed rise in testosterone and aggression.[85] Natural selection might have evolved males to be more sensitive to competitive and status challenge situations and that the interacting roles of testosterone are the essential ingredient for aggressive behaviour in these situations.[86] Testosterone produces aggression by activating subcortical areas in the brain, which may also be inhibited or suppressed by social norms or familial situations while still manifesting in diverse intensities and ways through thoughts, anger, verbal aggression, competition, dominance and physical violence.[87] Testosterone mediates attraction to cruel and violent cues in men by promoting extended viewing of violent stimuli.[88] Testosterone specific structural brain characteristic can predict aggressive behaviour in individuals.[89]

Estradiol is known to correlate with aggression in male mice.[90] Moreover, the conversion of testosterone to estradiol regulates male aggression in sparrows during breeding season.[91] Rats who were given anabolic steroids that increase testosterone were also more physically aggressive to provocation as a result of „threat sensitivity“.[92]


The brain is also affected by this sexual differentiation;[13] the enzyme aromataseconverts testosterone into estradiol that is responsible for masculinization of the brain in male mice. In humans, masculinization of the fetal brain appears, by observation of gender preference in patients with congenital diseases of androgen formation or androgen receptor function, to be associated with functional androgen receptors.[93]

There are some differences between a male and female brain (possibly the result of different testosterone levels), one of them being size: the male human brain is, on average, larger.[94] Men were found to have a total myelinated fiber length of 176,000 km at the age of 20, whereas in women the total length was 149,000 km (approx. 15% less).[95]

No immediate short term effects on mood or behavior were found from the administration of supraphysiologic doses of testosterone for 10 weeks on 43 healthy men.[96] A correlation between testosterone and risk tolerance in career choice exists among women.[62][97]

Attention, memory, and spatial ability are key cognitive functions affected by testosterone in humans. Preliminary evidence suggests that low testosterone levels may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and possibly for dementia of the Alzheimer’s type,[98][99][100][101] a key argument in life extension medicine for the use of testosterone in anti-aging therapies. Much of the literature, however, suggests a curvilinear or even quadratic relationship between spatial performance and circulating testosterone,[102]where both hypo- and hypersecretion (deficient- and excessive-secretion) of circulating androgens have negative effects on cognition.


Geschlechterrollenwechsel in der Pubertät aufgrund 5a-reductase-2 Ausfall (5a-RD-2)

Ein interessanter Bericht schildert den Verlauf einer biologischen Besonderheit,  der 5a-reductase-2 deficiency (5a-RD-2):

Ich hatte dazu schon einmal einen Artikel:

Gender development and 5a-reductase-2 deficiency (5a-RD-2) and 17bhydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency (17b-HSD-3) Children with 5α-RD-2 have an enzyme defect that prenatally blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. Consequently they are born with external genitals that are female in appearance. They are usually raised as girls and seem to have a female gender identity, but, if the condition is not discovered in childhood, these children develop male sex characteristics in puberty: growth of their “clitoris” and scrotum, lowering of the voice, beard growth, masculine muscle development, and masculine body fat distribution. After puberty, many of these youngsters start living as males and develop a sexual attraction toward females. These transitions have been primarily documented in non-Western cultures. When raised as boys, these children have a male identity and behave like boys.

Dazu dann aus dem Artikel:

A study of this form of pseudo-hermaphroditism in the Dominican Republic found 18 cases, all of whom had been unambiguously assigned a female sex and socialized as girls by parents who had no idea that their daughters might be sons. This occurred in a traditional, rural, unsophisticated, Latin American society with clear and distinct differences in male and female sex role behaviour. At the time of their sex change, several of the subjects were already engaged to be married to men. All had girls’ names, dressed as girls, and regarded themselves as girls until the sex change.

Following puberty, all the subjects developed male genitals along with the other secondary sexual characteristics of adolescent males. One of the first signs of the sex change in the erstwhile girls was a sudden interest in playing football! The ages at which subjects first experienced morning erections, nocturnal emissions, masturbation and sexual intercourse were not appreciably different between those raised as girls who changed to a male-gender identity and a control group raised as boys from the beginning.

Vermutlich würde man hier im feministischen sagen, dass eben die Zuordnung des Männlichen zu den Genitalien so eindeutig ist, dass sie trotz aller Erziehung ihre Rollen vergessen und männlich werden.

Dazu aus meinem Butlerartikel:

Butler überträgt diesen Gedanken, wie Foucault bereits vor ihr auf das Geschlechterverhältnis, wo nach ihrer Auffassung ebenfalls bestimmte Geschlechternormen errichtet worden sind, die die Errichtung der Geschlechter und deren Verhalten bewirken. Diese knüpfen an die unterschiedlichen Körper von Mann und Frau an, die aber insoweit lediglich das Unterscheidungsmerkmal bilden, dass dann über verschiedene kulturell geschaffene Regeln zur Errichtung der Geschlechterrollen führt. Körper materialisieren sich nie unabhängig von ihrer kulturellen Form, sind also immer an ihre kulturspezifische Wahrnehmung gebunden.
Diese kulturspezifischen Merkmale der Geschlechterrollen werden dann durch beständige Wiederholung gleichsam eingeübt.
Nach dieser Vorstellung gibt es ersteinmal keine Frau als Subjekt, sondern das was als Frau definiert wird ist beständig einer kulturellen Betrachtung und Veränderung unterworfen. Eine „Frau“ mit einem männlicheren Körper ist in dieser Hinsicht teilweise schon wieder den männlichen Regeln unterworfen, ist also nicht per se Frau, sondern irgendwo dazwischen. Ein Transsexueller wäre nach erfolgter Operation über seinen Körper neuen Geschlechternormen unterworfen, die aber wiederum im Fluss sind und wer welchen Normen unterworfen ist, ist ebenso im Fluss, was die Abgrenzung der Geschlechter schwierig macht. Allein der Diskurs kann nach diesen Vorstellungen festlegen, was eigentlich eine Frau und was ein Mann ist. Denn der Diskurs hätte nach diesen Theorien etwa die Macht, einem Mann mit einem zB geringen Bartwuchs die Männereigenschaft abzusprechen und ihn den Frauen zuzuordnen (wenn ich es richtig verstehe). Darauf, dass die Abgrenzung dennoch in den meisten Kulturen abgesehen von den geringen Zahlen der Intersexuellen und Transsexuellen unproblematisch ist, geht sie meines Wissens nach nicht ein.
Für Butler schafft der Diskurs damit auch gleichzeitig den Körper -durch die Sprache materialisert sich das Geschlecht, Diskurs und Materie sind insofern miteinander verbunden. Die Sprache und der Diskurs stehend damit auf einer Stufe mit der Materie. Das Sprache und Diskurs die Materie nicht verändern und die Materie unterschiedlich bleibt ist nicht relevant, weil das übergeordnete Subjekt aus den drei Elementen, Diskurs, Sprache und Materie, eben durch diese alle drei geschaffen wird. Eine Frau kann nicht Frau sein, wenn die Eigenschaft Frau nicht durch den Diskurs in seiner gerade gültigen Form geschaffen, dies durch Sprache vermittelt wird und die Unterscheidung zu anderen Geschlechtern anhand körperlicher Faktoren, an denen diese Normen ansetzen können, erfolgen kann. (vgl auch „Butler zur Konstruktion der Geschlechter„)

Weil also deren Körper männlicher werden übernehmen sie dann nach dieser Vorstellung auch männliche Normen. Allerdings scheint mir die Erklärung nach der Biologie wesentlich realistischer und natürlich müsste man sich dann auch entscheiden, ob Erziehung leicht änderbar ist, ebenso wie Geschlechterrollen oder nicht.

The study found that all but two (89 per cent) made a full sex-role change and were living with women at the time of the study despite parental consternation, their own initial shock, and social pressure not to do so.

Gerade wenn man diesen Druck dazu nimmt und auch berücksichtigt, dass sie nicht plötzlich körperlich Männer geworden sind, sondern nur männlicher, passen auch die oben genannten Theorien nach meiner Auffassung nicht. Eine so hohe Quote passt aber sehr gut zu den biologischen Theorien.

Auch die anderen beiden Personen haben aber erhebliche Veränderungen mit dem Einsetzen der Hormone erlebt.

One of the remaining two continued to dress as a woman, had sexual relations with women but not men, and had masculine ways. The other persisted in the female role and lived with a man for a year until he left her. She was described by the study as having masculine build and mannerisms but wore false breasts and at the time of the study desired a sex change operation to make her a more normal woman.

Auch sicherlich keine einfachen Schicksale plötzlich eine solche Umkrempelung des eigenen Lebens zu erfahren und alles auf den Kopf gestellt zu bekommen, was bisher galt.

Of the 18, she was the only one who persisted in all respects with the female sex role that she had been assigned at birth. The researchers conclude: “These subjects demonstrate that in the absence of sociocultural factors that could interrupt the natural sequence of events, the effect of testosterone predominates, over-riding the effect of rearing as girls.”

Es würde in der Tat ganz neue Modelle erfordern um diese Phänomene darzustellen, wenn man nur auf die Erziehung abstellt. Denn dieses Abstreifen der Erziehung scheint mir mit den bisherigen Theorien nicht wirklich zu erklären.

Ein anderes Beispiel:

The Simbari Anga of Papua New Guinea have a radically different culture from that of the Dominican Republic: after male initiation rites (prior to puberty) the two sexes are kept rigorously separate, and ritualized oral sex occurs between men from puberty until premarital age. Yet in spite of this barrier between the sexes,

most of the affected individuals changed their gender identities from female to male at puberty, albeit with much turmoil … The fact that these individuals adopted male gender identity at puberty suggests that prenatal exposure of the brain to testosterone, combined with normal activational events of male puberty, overrides any effect of rearing in the determination of adult gender identity.

Bei vollkommener Trennung konnten sie dennoch eine andere Geschlechteridentität entwickeln. Aber eben auch nur die davon betroffenen, die eine hormonelle Umstellung erlebten.

The researchers conclude:

It has been proposed that gender identity becomes fixed by 18 months to 4 years of age, at the approximate time of language development (…). During this time a child becomes aware of his or her gender. Awareness of one’s gender and being unalterably fixed in that gender appear to be two separate issues. Subjects with 5α-reductase deficiency who have undergone a gender change suggest that gender identity in man is not fixed in childhood but is continually evolving, becoming fixed with or following pubertal events.

In humans, androgens, and not just environmental or sociocultural factors, make a strong and definite contribution to the formation of a male gender identity (…).

Es ist ein interessanter Sonderfall, der sicherlich weiterer Forschung wert ist. Natürlich funktioniert ansonsten bei anderen Jungs und Mädchen auch die Umwandlung von Testosteron auch, so dass da bestimmte Abläufe früher beginnen und abgeschlossen werden könnten.

In terms of the diametric model(link is external), sexuality is a complex issue, as I argued in a previous post, with a real, mechanistic, genetically-determined part—sex—and an imaginary, mentalistic part—gender. Furthermore, as I also pointed out in another post, even the purely genetic/hormonal aspect of sex is much more complicated in reality than it might seem. But however you look at it, the score seems to be: Nature 9, Nurture 1! At the very least, it certainly isn’t the draw we’re usually told it is.

Es zeigt aus meiner Sicht auch die starke Wirkung der Biologie, die selbst einen so komplexen Wandel bewirken kann.

Geschlechterunterschiede im Gehirn sind bereits im Alter von einem Monat vorhanden

Ein interessante Studie zu Geschlechterunterschieden im Gehirn bei Säuglingen:

The developing brain undergoes systematic changes that occur at successive stages of maturation. Deviations from the typical neurodevelopmental trajectory are hypothesized to underlie many early childhood disorders; thus, characterizing the earliest patterns of normative brain development is essential. Recent neuroimaging research provides insight into brain structure during late childhood and adolescence; however, few studies have examined the infant brain, particularly in infants under 3 months of age. Using high-resolution structural MRI, we measured subcortical gray and white matter brain volumes in a cohort (N = 143) of 1-month infants and examined characteristics of these volumetric measures throughout this early period of neurodevelopment. We show that brain volumes undergo age-related changes during the first month of life, with the corresponding patterns of regional asymmetry and sexual dimorphism. Specifically, males have larger total brain volume and volumes differ by sex in regionally specific brain regions, after correcting for total brain volume. Consistent with findings from studies of later childhood and adolescence, subcortical regions appear more rightward asymmetric. Neither sex differences nor regional asymmetries changed with gestation-corrected age. Our results complement a growing body of work investigating the earliest neurobiological changes associated with development and suggest that asymmetry and sexual dimorphism are present at birth.

Quelle: Investigation of brain structure in the 1-month infant (Scihub Volltext Link)

Aus der Studie:

Unterschiede Gehirn Mann Frau 1 Monat

Unterschiede Gehirn Mann Frau 1 Monat

Da geht es um die

  1. Größe des Gehirns von männlichen und weiblichen Babies nach Geburt.
  2. Das Volumen der weißen Substanz im Gehirn
  3. Das Volumen der grauen Substanz im Gehirn

Wie man sieht ist das Gehirn der männlichen Babies im Durchschnitt zB größer, und zwar über die hier erfassten Alter hinweg, auch wenn es einzelne männliche Babies mit relativ kleinen und einige Mädchen mit relativ großen Gehirnvolumen gibt. Der Trend ist aber recht deutlich.

Auch die Daten zu den verschiedenen Bereichen zeigen deutliche Unterschiede:

Unterschiede Gehirn Mann Frau 1 Monat

Unterschiede Gehirn Mann Frau 1 Monat

Es wird schwer das mit einer unterschiedlichen Sozialisiation zu erklären. Sie müsste dann wohl bereits im Mutterleib ansetzen. Was allerdings pränatale Hormone in der Tat machen, wie man beispielsweise an dem Testosteronspiegel sieht:

Testosteron Maenner Frauen

Testosteron Maenner Frauen

Aus einer Besprechung der Studie:

Dean’s team found that the boys’ brains were 8.3 per cent bigger, in line with the sex difference in brain volume found in adults and the few other available infant studies. Also as seen in adults, male brains had relatively more white matter (connecting tissue) and female brains more grey matter, relative to total brain size.

A number of specific neural areas were larger in males, such as parts of the limbic system involved in emotions, including the amygdala, insula, thalamus and putamen. The researchers also found evidence for relatively larger hippocampi, an area involved in memory, which has more commonly been found to be larger in females, although not universally so. Meanwhile female brains were relatively larger in other limbic areas such as parts of the cingulate gyrus, caudate and parahippocampal gyrus, and they had a few white-matter structures that were relatively larger.

These sex differences were smaller than has been observed in adults, which suggests that maturation continues this differentiation, likely through the high volume of sex steroid receptors in these brain areas. The alternative suggestion is that the subsequent differentiation is due to socialisation, but for the forces of socialisation to work along the same lines as pre-existing biological forces would suggest that socialisation is at most a feedback loop between biology and society.

There were a lot of brain areas that differed structurally between the sexes, but it would be irresponsible to draw any firm conclusions about what they might mean for function and behaviour. For instance,  what could differences in overall insula size possibly mean psychologically when the area is associated with “compassion and empathy, perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning”, “interpersonal experience” and “psychopathology”?

Insofern liegt noch viel Arbeit vor den Forschern, bis sie die Unterschiede wirklich verstehen. Aber dennoch entzieht diese Studie vielen, die auf einen Blank Slate abstellen und annehmen, dass Geschlechterunterschiede nur auf Sozialisiation zurück gehen können einiges an Boden bzw. erfordert, dass diese ihre Thesen kritisch hinterfragen.

Vgl auch:

Homosexualität am Gesicht erkennen

Die Studie war bereits Thema in den Kommentaren:

We show that faces contain much more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain. We used deep neural networks to extract features from 35,326 facial images. These features were entered into a logistic regression aimed at classifying sexual orientation. Given a single facial image, a classifier could correctly distinguish between gay and heterosexual men in 81% of cases, and in 74% of cases for women. Human judges achieved much lower accuracy: 61% for men and 54% for women. The accuracy of the algorithm increased to 91% and 83%, respectively, given five facial images per person. Facial features employed by the classifier included both fixed (e.g., nose shape) and transient facial features (e.g., grooming style). Consistent with the prenatal hormone theory of sexual orientation, gay men and women tended to have gender-atypical facial morphology, expression, and grooming styles. Prediction models aimed at gender alone allowed for detecting gay males with 57% accuracy and gay females with 58% accuracy. Those findings advance our understanding of the origins of sexual orientation and the limits of human perception. Additionally, given that companies and governments are increasingly using computer vision algorithms to detect people’s intimate traits, our findings expose a threat to the privacy and safety of gay men and women.

Quote: Deep neural networks are more accurate than humans at detecting sexual orientation from facial images.

Aus dem Spiegelartikel dazu:

Sie zeigten, wie ein Computer mithilfe von Gesichterkennungssoftware die sexuelle Orientierung von Menschen erkennt.

Und das mit extrem hoher Trefferquote: Ausgehend von nur einem Foto erkannte das Programm 81 Prozent aller schwulen Männer und 74 Prozent aller homosexuellen Frauen. Menschliche Probanden, denen die gleichen Bilder vorgelegt wurden, kamen hier nur auf 61 und 54 Prozent Trefferquote. Noch gruseliger wurden die Ergebnisse, wenn man dem Rechner fünf Bilder einer Person vorlegte. Dann erkannte die Software 91 Prozent der homosexuellen Männer und 83 Prozent der Frauen.

Auch interessant: Das dort verlinkte Bild:

homosexuell Gesicht

homosexuell Gesicht

Das linke Gesicht wurde aus heterosexuellen Personen zusammengesetzt, das rechte aus homsoexuellen Personen.

Interessanterweise kommen mir in beiden Fällen die heterosexuellen Gesichter unattraktiver vor. Vielleicht auch nur, weil  sie jeweils dicker aussehen.

Aus meiner Sicht ein durchaus zu erwartendes Ergebnis:

Die vorherrschende Theorie führt an, dass Homosexualität in einer engen Verbindung mit insbesondere pränatalen Hormonen steht:

Und auch Gesichter sind männlicher oder weiblicher unter der Einwirkung der Hormone:

vgl zB diese Studie:

Prenatal testosterone may have a powerful masculinizing effect on postnatal physical characteristics. However, no study has directly tested this hypothesis. Here, we report a 20-year follow-up study that measured testosterone concentrations from the umbilical cord blood of 97 male and 86 female newborns, and procured three-dimensional facial images on these participants in adulthood (range: 21–24 years). Twenty-three Euclidean and geodesic distances were measured from the facial images and an algorithm identified a set of six distances that most effectively distinguished adult males from females. From these distances, a ‘gender score’ was calculated for each face, indicating the degree of masculinity or femininity. Higher cord testosterone levels were associated with masculinized facial features when males and females were analysed together (n = 183; r = −0.59), as well as when males (n = 86; r = −0.55) and females (n = 97; r = −0.48) were examined separately (p-values < 0.001). The relationships remained significant and substantial after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Adult circulating testosterone concentrations were available for males but showed no statistically significant relationship with gendered facial morphology (n = 85, r = 0.01, p = 0.93). This study provides the first direct evidence of a link between prenatal testosterone exposure and human facial structure.

Ich hatte einmal zu den Gründen für Homosexualität ausgeführt:

1. Männliche Homosexualität:

  • Die Hoden des Fötus produzieren nicht genug Testosteron
  • Die Hoden des Fötus entwickeln sich zu spät und produzieren erst nach der entscheidenen Phase Testosteron
  • Das Testosteron wird mangels entsprechender Rezeptoren an der Blut-Hirn-Schranke/im ganzen Körper nicht erkannt.
  • Das Testosteron wird mangels entsprechender Rezeptoren an der Blut-Hirn-Schranke nur teilweise/abgeschächt erkannt
  • Das Östrogen wird im Gehirn mangels entsprechender Rezeptoren nicht erkannt.
  • Die Mutter stellt in der entscheidenden Phase nicht genug Testosteron bereit.
  • Der Schwellenwert ist überhoch eingestellt, so dass das weibliche Programm trotz ausreichend Testosteron nicht durchgeführt wird.
  • Antiandrogene blockieren die Rezeptoren in der entscheidenden Phase.
  • Medikamente/andere Stoffe senken den Testosteronspiegel in der entscheidenden Phase
  • Umweltbedingungen senken des Testosteronspiegel in der entscheidenden Phase
  • Ein Zusammenspiel dieser Faktoren

2. Weibliche Homosexualität:

  • Der Fötus hat einen erhöhten Testosteronspiegel (über eine Überproduktion der Nebennierenrinde und der Eierstöcke)
  • Die Mutter stellt ein Übermass an Testosteron bereit.
  • Der Schwellenwert für das 2.  Bauschema Mann ist in diesem Bereich extrem niedrig angesetzt.
  • Medikamente sorgen für eine Erhöhung des Testosteronspiegels in der empfindlichen Phase
  • überempfindliche Rezeptoren suggerieren einen erhöhten Testosteronspiegel.
  • Ein Zusammenspiel dieser Faktoren

Wie man sieht muss damit nicht zwangsläufig die Homosexualität sich auch im Gesicht zeigen. Etwa weil der „Schwellenwert“ niedrig angesetzt ist oder der Wert nur in einer bestimmten Phase sehr hoch ist. Gerade wenn der Hormonspiegel aber dauerhaft erhöht ist spricht vieles für eine Übereinstimmung.

Insofern aus meiner Sicht ein sehr nachvollziehbares Ergebnis


Studiensammlung 4: (Prenatale) Hormone und Geschlechterunterschiede im Gehirn und Verhalten

Und weil wir heute eh schon eine Studie hier zu Gehirnunterschieden haben hier ein paar weitere Studien:


Fetal Testosterone Influences Sexually Dimorphic Gray Matter in the Human Brain

In nonhuman species, testosterone is known to have permanent organizing effects early in life that predict later expression of sex differences in brain and behavior. However, in humans, it is still unknown whether such mechanisms have organizing effects on neural sexual dimorphism. In human males, we show that variation in fetal testosterone (FT) predicts later local gray matter volume of specific brain regions in a direction that is congruent with sexual dimorphism observed in a large independent sample of age-matched males and females from the NIH Pediatric MRI Data Repository. Right temporoparietal junction/posterior superior temporal sulcus (RTPJ/pSTS), planum temporale/parietal operculum (PT/PO), and posterior lateral orbitofrontal cortex (plOFC) had local gray matter volume that was both sexually dimorphic and predicted in a congruent direction by FT. That is, gray matter volume in RTPJ/pSTS was greater for males compared to females and was positively predicted by FT. Conversely, gray matter volume in PT/PO and plOFC was greater in females compared to males and was negatively predicted by FT. Subregions of both amygdala and hypothalamus were also sexually dimorphic in the direction of Male > Female, but were not predicted by FT. However, FT positively predicted gray matter volume of a non-sexually dimorphic subregion of the amygdala. These results bridge a long-standing gap between human and nonhuman species by showing that FT acts as an organizing mechanism for the development of regional sexual dimorphism in the human brain.


(FT was measured from amniotic fluid samples collected between 13 and 20 weeks of gestation (mean FT, 0.79 nmol/L; SD, 0.34 nmol/L; range, 0.25–1.70 nmol/L).


The Impact of Sex, Puberty, and Hormones on White Matter Microstructure in Adolescents

Background: During adolescence, numerous factors influence the organization of the brain. It is unclear what influence sex and puberty have on white matter microstructure, as well as the role that rapidly increasing sex steroids play. Methods: White matter microstructure was examined in 77 adolescents (ages 10–16) using diffusion tensor imaging. Multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the relationships between fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) and sex, puberty, and their interaction, controlling for age. Follow-up analyses determined if sex steroids predicted microstructural characteristics in sexually dimorphic and pubertal-related white matter regions, as well as in whole brain. Results: Boys had higher FA in white matter carrying corticospinal, long-range association, and cortico-subcortical fibers, and lower MD in frontal and temporal white matter compared with girls. Pubertal development was related to higher FA in the insula, while a significant sex-by-puberty interaction was seen in superior frontal white matter. In boys, testosterone predicted white matter integrity in sexually dimorphic regions as well as whole brain FA, whereas estradiol showed a negative relationship with FA in girls. Conclusions: Sex differences and puberty uniquely relate to white matter microstructure in adolescents, which can partially be explained by sex steroids.


Hormonal Assessment
Four milliliters of blood was collected via venipuncture between the hours of 7:00 to 10:00 AM at the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute in the same week as the imaging session.


Regional sex differences in grey matter volume are associated with sex hormones in the young adult human brain

Previous studies suggest organizing effects of sex hormones on brain structure during early life and puberty, yet little is known about the adult period. The aim of the present study was to elucidate the role of 17β-estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone on cortical sex differences in grey matter volume (GM) of the adult human brain. To assess sexual dimorphism, voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was applied on structural magnetic resonance images of 34 healthy, young adult humans (17 women, 17 men, 26.6 ± 5 years) using analyses of covariance. Subsequently, circulating levels of sex hormones were associated with regional GM using linear regression analyses. After adjustment for sex and total GM, significant associations of regional GM and 17β-estradiol were observed in the left inferior frontal gyrus (β = 0.39, p = 0.02). Regional GM was inversely associated with testosterone in the left inferior frontal gyrus (β = −0.16, p = 0.04), and with progesterone in the right temporal pole (β = −0.39, p = 0.008). Our findings indicate that even in young adulthood, sex hormones exert organizing effects on regional GM. This might help to shed further light on the underlying mechanisms of both functional diversities and congruence between female and male brains.


Pubertal hormones organize the adolescent brain and behavior

Maturation of the reproductive system during puberty results in elevated levels of gonadal steroid hormones. These hormones sculpt neural circuits during adolescence, a time of dramatic rewiring of the nervous system. Here, we review the evidence that steroid-dependent organization of the adolescent brain programs a variety of adult behaviors in animals and humans. Converging lines of evidence indicate that adolescence may be a sensitive period for steroid-dependent brain organization and that variation in the timing of interactions between the hormones of puberty and the adolescent brain leads to individual differences in adult behavior and risk of sex-biased psychopathologies.


Prenatal hormones and childhood sex-segregation: Playmate and play style preferences in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

We investigated playmate and play style preference in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) (26 females, 31 males) and their unaffected siblings (26 females, 17 males) using the Playmate and Play Style Preferences Structured Interview (PPPSI). Both unaffected boys and girls preferred same-sex playmates and sex-typical play styles. In the conflict condition where children chose between a same-sex playmate engaged in an other-sex activity or an other-sex playmate engaged in a same-sex activity, boys (both CAH and unaffected brothers) almost exclusively chose playmates based on the preferred play style of the playmate as opposed to the preferred gender label of the playmate. By contrast, unaffected girls used play style and gender label about equally when choosing playmates. Girls with CAH showed a pattern similar to that of boys: their playmate selections were more masculine than unaffected girls, they preferred a boy-typical play style and, in the conflict condition, chose playmates engaged in a masculine activity. These findings suggest that prenatal androgen exposure contributes to sex differences in playmate selection observed in typically-developing children, and that, among boys and girls exposed to high levels of androgens prenatally, play style preferences drive sex segregation in play.


Prenatal Hormones and Postnatal Socialization by Parents as Determinants of Male-Typical Toy Play in Girls With Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Toy choices of 3- to 10-year-old children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and of their unaffected siblings were assessed. Also assessed was parental encouragement of sex-typed toy play. Girls with CAH displayed more male-typical toy choices than did their unaffected sisters, whereas boys with and without CAH did not differ. Mothers and fathers encouraged sex-typical toy play in children with and without CAH. However, girls with CAH received more positive feedback for play with girls’ toys than did unaffected girls. Data show that increased male-typical toy play by girls with CAH cannot be explained by parental encouragement of male-typical toy play. Although parents encourage sex-appropriate behavior, their encouragement appears to be insufficient to override the interest of girls with CAH in cross-sexed toy


Increased aggression and activity level in 3- to 11-year-old girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Experimental research in a wide range of mammals has documented powerful influences of androgen during early development on brain systems and behaviors that show sex differences. Clinical research in humans suggests similar influences of early androgen concentrations on some behaviors, including childhood play behavior and adult sexual orientation. However, findings have been inconsistent for some other behaviors that show sex differences, including aggression and activity level in children. This inconsistency may reflect small sample sizes and assessment limitations. In the present study, we assessed aggression and activity level in 3- to 11-year-old children with CAH (38 girls, 29 boys) and in their unaffected siblings (25 girls, 21 boys) using a questionnaire that mothers completed to indicate current aggressive behavior and activity level in their children.

Data supported the hypotheses that:

  • 1. unaffected boys are more aggressive and active than unaffected girls;
  • 2. girls with CAH are more aggressive and active than their unaffected sisters; and
  • 3. boys with and without CAH are similar to one another in aggression and activity level.

These data suggest that early androgens have a masculinizing effect on both aggressive behavior and activity level in girls.


Prenatal androgen exposure alters girls’ responses to information indicating gender-appropriate behaviour

Individual variability in human gender-related behaviour is influenced by many factors, including androgen exposure prenatally, as well as selfsocialization and socialization by others postnatally. Many studies have looked at these types of influences in isolation, but little is known about how they work together. Here, we report that girls exposed to high concentrations of androgens prenatally, because they have the genetic condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show changes in processes related to selfsocialization of gender-related behaviour. Specifically, they are less responsive than other girls to information that particular objects are for girls and they show reduced imitation of female models choosing particular objects. These findings suggest that prenatal androgen exposure may influence subsequent gender-related behaviours, including object (toy) choices, in part by changing processes involved in the self-socialization of gendered behaviour, rather than only by inducing permanent changes in the brain during early development. In addition, the findings suggest that some of the behavioural effects of prenatal androgen exposure might be subject to alteration by postnatal socialization processes. The findings also suggest a previously unknown influence of early androgen exposure on later processes involved in self socialization of gender-related behaviour, and thus expand understanding of the developmental systems regulating human gender development.


How early hormones shape gender development

Prenatal androgens influence sex-related characteristics to varying degrees.
• Androgens facilitate male-typed activities through interest in things versus people.
• Androgens are associated with some aspects of brain structure and activation.
• Current work is focused on interplay of hormones and social environment.
• Relevant to questions regarding sex-related psychopathology, prenatal programming.
Many important psychological characteristics show sex differences, and are influenced by sex hormones at different developmental periods. We focus on the role of sex hormones in early development, particularly the differential effects of prenatal androgens on aspects of gender development. Increasing evidence confirms that prenatal androgens have facilitative effects on male-typed activity interests and engagement (including child toy preferences and adult careers), and spatial abilities, but relatively minimal effects on gender identity. Recent emphasis has been directed to the psychological mechanisms underlying these effects (including sex differences in propulsive movement, and androgen effects on interest in people vs things), and neural substrates of androgen effects (including regional brain volumes, and neural responses to mental rotation, sexually arousing stimuli, emotion, and reward). Ongoing and planned work is focused on understanding the ways in which hormones act jointly with the social environment across time to produce varying trajectories of gender development, and clarifying mechanisms by which androgens affect behaviors. Such work will be facilitated by applying lessons from other species, and by expanding methodology. Understanding hormonal influences on gender development enhances knowledge of psychological development generally, and has important implications for basic and applied questions, including sex differences in psychopathology, women’s underrepresentation in science and math, and clinical care of individuals with variations in gender expression.


The organizing actions of adolescent gonadal steroid hormones on brain and behavioral development


• Adolescence is a sensitive period for the effects of hormones on brain and behavior.
• Testicular hormones masculinize and defeminize social and reproductive behaviors.
• Ovarian hormones have both feminizing and defeminizing effects on female behavior.
• Gonadal steroid hormones drive many brain structural changes during adolescence.
• Adolescence may be part of a protracted postnatal steroid-sensitive period.

Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by dramatic changes in cognition, risk-taking and social behavior. Although gonadal steroid hormones are well-known mediators of these behaviors in adulthood, the role gonadal steroid hormones play in shaping the adolescent brain and behavioral development has only come to light in recent years. Here we discuss the sex-specific impact of gonadal steroid hormones on the developing adolescent brain. Indeed, the effects of gonadal steroid hormones during adolescence on brain structure and behavioral outcomes differs markedly between the sexes. Research findings suggest that adolescence, like the perinatal period, is a sensitive period for the sex-specific effects of gonadal steroid hormones on brain and behavioral development. Furthermore, evidence from studies on male sexual behavior suggests that adolescence is part of a protracted postnatal sensitive period that begins perinatally and ends following adolescence. As such, the perinatal and peripubertal periods of brain and behavioral organization likely do not represent two discrete sensitive periods, but instead are the consequence of normative developmental timing of gonadal hormone secretions in males and females.


Effects of chromosomal sex and hormonal influences on shaping sex differences in brain and behavior: Lessons from cases of disorders of sex development

Sex differences in brain development and postnatal behavior are determined largely by genetic sex and in utero gonadal hormone secretions. In humans however, determining the weight that each of these factors contributes remains a challenge because social influences should also be considered. Cases of disorders of sex development (DSD) provide unique insight into how mutations in genes responsible for gonadal formation can perturb the subsequent developmental hormonal milieu and elicit changes in normal human brain maturation. Specific forms of DSDs such as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), and 5α-reductase deficiency syndrome have variable effects between males and females, and the developmental outcomes of such conditions are largely dependent on sex chromosome composition. Medical and psychological works focused on CAH, CAIS, and 5α-reductase deficiency have helped form the foundation for understanding the roles of genetic and hormonal factors necessary for guiding human brain development. Here we highlight how the three aforementioned DSDs contribute to brain and behavioral phenotypes that can uniquely affect 46,XY and 46,XX individuals in dramatically different fashions

Aus der Studie:

CAH ein Schaubild

CAH, CAIS und 5-alpha reductace Deficiency: ein Schaubild

Weiteres aus der Studie:

Research focused on cases of DSD have helped the scientific community better understand the interplay between gonadal hormones and sex chromosome complement with regard to generating some of the sex differences observed in humans. These works have shed light on the likelihood that testosterone exposure, as opposed to sex chromosomes, is a larger contributing factor for guiding one’s sexual orientation and to a lesser extent gender identity. We see that 46,XX CAH individuals that have been exposed to in utero testosterone experience a greater degree of dissatisfaction in gender assignment in addition to above-average levels of homosexual and bisexual fantasies, a proxy for sexual preference. As previously mentioned, other variables are present in CAH cases such as life-long medical interventions and psychosocial confounds. These variables may constitute an environmental factor that, when coupled with biological predispositions, generates variations in sexual orientation and gender identity. That sexual orientation is determined solely by in utero hormonal milieu is unlikely. We see that the vast majority of CAH women, despite having been exposed to above-average levels of testosterone, identify as heterosexual as measured by both partners and sexual fantasies. The science of sexual orientation is still weakly understood at the mechanistic level; however, considerable amounts of research have proposed many possibilities for the causes of same-sex attraction (LeVay, 2012; Bailey et al., 2016).

The strongest evidence that adds support for the influence of testosterone in structuring gender identity comes from the work focused on 46,XY CAIS, in which nearly all individuals researched indicate feelings typical of female gender. In addition to self-reports and clinical evaluations, recent fMRI studies have also demonstrated that CAIS women not only feel female but also neurologically respond more similarly to 46,XX women than to 46,XY men when observing sexual images. However, new studies are continually emerging suggesting that gender identity and sexual orientation in individuals with CAIS are not as clear as once thought, and the rates of nonheterosexual and gender dysphoria may be much higher than currently stated. In addition to CAH and CAIS, 5α-reductase deficiencies have also demonstrated the strong role of testosterone’s ability to organize the human brain hormonally and influence adult gender identity and behavior. If early in utero exposure had no influence in guiding brain gender, we would expect considerable difficulty with the female-to-male transition observed in pubertal years in those with 5α-reductase deficiency. What we observe, however, is that an overwhelming majority of individuals with this condition comfortably transitioned into the new gender role at puberty, a worldwide observation occurring throughout many different types of social environments. Despite the convincing findings for the role of testosterone in generating these observations, the influence of social and other environmental variables are also factors that require consideration.

Cognitive Conclusions
Studying cases of DSDs has also provided insight into some of the biological parameters that generate sex differences in cognitive abilities such as visuospatial awareness and targeting ability. From studies with 46,XX CAH individuals it has been well established that in utero androgen exposure seems to enhance the ability to mentally rotate objects as well as improving hand–eye coordination during targeting tasks. This trait appears to be dependent on sex chromosome complement in addition to hormone exposure, insofar as 46,XY males with CAH actually perform worse than their matched controls, which is unexpected given the fact that CAH males would have equal or elevated levels of circulating testosterone. This raises the notion, as mentioned above, that proper timing and dosage are also likely to be important for enhancing such abilities and that simply having above-average levels of testosterone during development would not generate a “super-male.” CAIS provides another insight into this matter, demonstrating that the ability to respond to testosterone on an XY background is critical to establishing baseline spatial performance abilities. fMRI studies demonstrate that 46,XY CAIS had less inferior parietal lobe neuroactivation when performing spatial rotation tasks, a feature that resembles 46,XX females more than control genetic males. These fMRI studies on CAIS individuals once again minimize social influences and allow for a more unbiased assessment of the requirement for testosterone over genetic composition for shaping these cognitive performance sex differences.
Structural Conclusions
From the MRI studies that have been conducted in patients with CAH, it is clear that DSDs affect more than gonadal development. As highlighted, the central nervous system is highly sensitive to various hormones, and imbalances of these can greatly affect downstream behavior as well as overall brain structure. Variations in amygdala volume seem to be present in some individuals with CAH; however the effect is different depending on sex chromosome composition. Specifically, 46,XY males with CAH show unilateral reductions in the left amygdala, whereas 46,XX females with CAH show bilateral reductions in overall volume. Alterations in amygdala volume seem to be consistent with long-term glucocorticoid replacement therapies because findings for non-CAH patients on such hormone regiments also show amygdala abnormalities. The documentations of white matter irregularities seem to be unaffected by chromosomal sex and to cause similar variations in both males and females with CAH. The explanations for these results are not agreed upon, and more research will be needed before causations can be associated with the unusual white matter findings. Although limited, these discoveries have opened a new area for potential investigation focusing on the role of glucocorticoid influences in the developing brain in addition to the more frequently studied gonadal hormonal contributions. Unfortunately, no extensive structural studies have been conducted in patients with CAIS or 5α-reductase deficiencies. These findings would be invaluable in determining the direct effect of testosterone on the structures that in MRI studies have shown alterations in CAH. Future work focusing on outcomes in individuals with DSD will continue to aid in deciphering the contributions of chromosomal sex and hormones to shaping the sexually dimorphic human brain.


Feminists wrestle with testosterone: Hormones, socialization and cultural interactionism as predictors of women’s gendered selves 

Sociology of gender has developed beyond a personality-centered idea of ‘‘sex-roles’’ to an approach that stresses interaction and social structure. At the same time, there has been a concurrent development in the psychological sex-differences and medical literatures toward including the biological bases of sex-typed behavior and gender identities. In this paper, while we conceptualize gender as a social structure, we focus only on the individual level of analysis: testing the relative strength of (maternal circulating) prenatal hormones, childhood socialization, and the power of expectations attached to adult social roles (cultural interactionist) as explanations for women’s self-reported feminine and masculine selves. Our findings are complex, and support some importance of each theory. Prenatal hormones, childhood socialization, and cultural interactionism were all influential factors for gendered selves. While cultural expectations predicted only feminine selves, prenatal hormones were more robust predictors of masculine sense of self. While personality may be a relatively stable characteristic influenced by the body and childhood socialization, our results reinforce the importance of studying how the social world responds to and reinforces gendered personality.


Genetic association suggests that SMOC1 mediates between prenatal sex hormones and digit ratio


Men and women differ statistically in the relative lengths of their index and ring fingers; and the ratio of these lengths has been used as a biomarker for prenatal
testosterone. The ratio has been correlated with a wide range of traits and conditions including prostate cancer, obesity, autism, ADHD, and sexual orientation. In a genome-wide association study of 979 healthy adults, we find that digit ratio is strongly associated with variation upstream of SMOC1 (rs4902759: P = 1.41 9 10-8) and a meta-analysis of this and an independent study shows a probability of P = 1.5 9 10-11. The protein encoded by SMOC1 has recently been shown to play a critical role in limb development; its expression in prostate tissue is dependent on sex hormones, and it has been implicated in the sexually dimorphic development of the gonads. We put forward the hypothesis that SMOC1 provides a link between prenatal hormone exposure and digit ratio.

Anmerkung: Finde ich interessant: Wenn das Protein, welches Einfluss auf die Entwicklung der Gliedmaßen hat, wiederum abhängig von Testosteron ist, dann würde das durchaus erklären, warum die Digit Ratio ein Indikator  für pränatales Testosteron ist, es könnte je nach Zusammenspiel auch zeigen, warum es ein teilweise unzuverlässiger Anzeiger ist, eben weil die Mechanismen unterschiedlich sind.


Exposure to prenatal life events stress is associated with masculinized play behavior in girls

Previous research has shown that prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter children’s neurodevelopment, including sex-typed behavior, and that it can do so in different ways in males and females. Non-chemical exposures, including psychosocial stress, may disrupt the prenatal hormonal milieu as well. To date, only one published study has prospectively examined the relationship between exposure to prenatal stress and gender-specific play behavior during childhood, finding masculinized play behavior in girls who experienced high prenatal life events stress, but no associations in boys. Here we examine this question in a second prospective cohort from the Study for Future Families. Pregnant women completed questionnaires on stressful life events during pregnancy, and those who reported one or more events were considered “stressed”. Families were recontacted several years later (mean age of index child: 4.9 years), and mothers completed a questionnaire including the validated Preschool Activities Inventory (PSAI), which measures sexually dimorphic play behavior. In sex-stratified analyses, after adjusting for child’s age, parental attitudes towards gender-atypical play, age and sex of siblings, and other relevant covariates, girls (n=72) exposed to prenatal life events stress had higher scores on the PSAI masculine sub-scale (β=3.48, p=0.006) and showed a trend towards higher (more masculine) composite scores (β=2.63, p=0.08). By contrast, in males (n=74), there was a trend towards an association between prenatal stress and higher PSAI feminine sub-scale scores (β=2.23, p=0.10), but no association with masculine or composite scores. These data confirm previous findings in humans and animal models suggesting that prenatal stress is a non-chemical endocrine disruptor that may have androgenic effects on female fetuses and anti-androgenic effects on male fetuses.

Anmerkung: Die Werte sind allerdings anscheinend sehr gering


Relations between prenatal testosterone levels and cognitive abilities at 4 years.

Relations between prenatal testosterone (T) levels and cognitive abilities at age 4 were examined for 28 girls and 30 boys. Prenatal T levels were measured in 2nd trimester amniotic fluid samples obtained by amniocentesis and were examined in relation to scores on tests of cognitive abilities. For girls, prenatal T levels showed a curvilinear (inverted U-shaped) relation to language comprehension and classification abilities. Linear relations also were observed in that prenatal T levels were inversely related to girls‘ scores on tasks assessing counting and number facts. Similarly, girls with high average block building scores had lower prenatal T and cognitive abilities were not observed. The observation of relations in girls and not boys is discussed, and the findings are examined in relation to theories of hormone-behavior relations.


Relations between prenatal testosterone and cerebral lateralization in children.

Several theorists have proposed that the sex steroid testosterone acts on the fetal brain during a critical period of development to influence cerebral lateralization (N. Geschwind & A. M. Galaburda, 1987; M. Hines & C. Shipley, see PA, Vol 71:8996; S. F. Witelson, see PA, Vol 79:26441. In the present study. relations were examined between prenatal testosterone levels in 2nd trimester amniotic fluid and lateralization of speech, affect, and handedness at age 10. Girls with higher prenatal testosterone levels were more strongly right-handed and had stronger left-hemisphere speech representation. Boys with higher prenatal testosterone levels had stronger right-hemisphere specialization for the recognition of emotion. This pattern of results is most consistent with Witelson’s (1991) claim that prenatal testosterone leads to greater lateralization of function.

Testo-kain oder Koka-steron? Zur Wirkung von Testosteron

Dies ist ein Gastartikel von Nina Radtke

Vor nicht all zu langer Zeit habe ich Testosteron mit Kokain verglichen. Zu diesem Schluss bin ich gekommen, da ich, im Gegensatz zu den meisten Menschen, in meinem Leben bereits verschiedenste Mengen an Testosteron im Blut hatte.

Dazu muss ich nun erst einmal kurz meine Vorgeschichte erklären: Bis ich 21 wurde, war ich der männlichen Adoleszenz unterworfen. Je mehr die Männlichkeit mein Ich bestimmte, umso schlechter fühlte ich mich. Das lag allerdings an meinem inneren Konflikt, dem Umstand, das ich trotz bereits lange vorher bestehendem andersartigem Bedürfnis, ein Mann werden sollte statt eine Frau.

Nun, ich habe dann, zuerst in Eigenregie und später mit ärztlicher Unterstützung eine Hormontherapie begonnen (und viele Operationen mitgemacht), dabei war mein Androgenspiegel oft signifikanten Änderungen unterworfen und ich habe inzwischen Alles erlebt von Testosteron quasi auf 0 bis hin zu den furchtbar hohen Testosteronspiegeln die ich angesichts meiner damals sehr ausgeprägten Muskulatur und Maskulinität gehabt haben muss.

Natürlich ist Testosteron nur ein Faktor, auch die Östrogenspiegel sowie mein weiterer Lebensweg hatten und haben sicher einen Einfluss auf mein Verhalten.

Dennoch ist es meine persönliche Empfindung, das Testosteron / Dihydrotestosteron (Wird mit Hilfe einer Aromatase zB in Prostata und Haarfolikeln aus Testosteron hergestellt und wirkt deutlich stärker) folgendermaßen wirkt:

  • Testosteron gibt Selbstvertrauen
    Wenn mein Testosteronspiegel sehr sehr niedrig ist, dann geht mir zunehmend das Selbstvertrauen flöten. Als mein Testosteronspiegel deutlich höher war, hatte ich im Umgang mit Menschen keine Selbstzweifel. Und auch keine Selbstzweifel (nur Verbitterung) beim Blick in den Spiegel. Bei sehr niedrigem Testosteron fühle ich mich einfach nicht sicher, aber es ist mehr. Mit viel Testosteron hat mein Selbstvertrauen oft dazu geführt, das Leute ohne Wiederworte Dinge mitgemacht haben, um die ich sie jetzt wirklich bitten müsste. Ich stand auch sehr viel mehr im Mittelpunkt.
  • Testosteron macht aktiv
    Kaum Testo – Lange Schlafen | „Normales Testo“ (Wert den ich die meiste Zeit hatte, etwas über weibl. Norm) – Halbwegs Aktiv | Hohes Testo – Aufgedreht (zB hin und her laufen beim Warten) ——- Hab aber glaub ich auch ADHS was sich überwiegend in sprunghaften Gedanken aber auch in physischer Unruhe äußert
  • Testosteron macht Unangreifbar
    Keine Angriff hätte mein Ego treffen können. Sowieso ist Ego glaube ich ein Produkt des zirkulierenden Testosterons, jedenfalls hat der Wettbewerbsgeist und der Geltungswahn mit der Hormontherapie schrittweise abgenommen und hat nun (T < weibliche Norm) Nichts mehr zu sagen. Ich bin jetzt auf mein Potential fokussiert und nicht auf den Vergleich mit Anderen. Ich ordne mich ohne Hierachiebewusstsein in eine Gruppe ein, früher undenkbar, aber vielleicht war mein Fokus auf Hierachie auch teilweise durch die Tipps in den Flirtratgebern statt nur durchs Testosteron bestimmt.
  • Testosteron macht Triebhaft
    Drogen, Party, Alkohol, Fressen – früher konnte ich mir den Driss jeden Tag geben und habs auch getan weil ich immer Bock drauf hatte. Eine neurobiologische Erklärung könnte sein, das Testosteron die Dopaminausschüttung stimuliert: Der gleiche Belohnungsreiz wirkt mit viel Testosteron deutlich stärker als mit wenig Testosteron. Vermutlich ein Grund, warum exzessives Verhalten bei Männern verbreiteter ist: Mehr Dopamin = Mehr Risikobereitschaft.
  • Testosteron macht gefühllos
    Schlimmer als unter Antidepressiva hat das Testosteron damals wie eine unsichtbare Mauer meine Gefühle eingesperrt. Ich konnte Gefühle ansatzweise fühlen, aber es gab immer einen Punkt, wo die Gefühle geblockt waren. Nur besonders starke „Einschläge“ konnten mich emotional aus der Ruhe bringen. Emotionen sind unter Östrogen ohne Testosteron weit fließender und natürlicher.

Mehr kann ich dazu nicht sagen, es ist noch heftig wie stark anabol Testosteron wirkt, ich merke es innerhalb weniger Wochen wenn mein Testosteron mal wieder sinkt oder steigt, das die Einkaufstasche mal schwerer und mal leichter ist. Aber das weiß glaub ich Jeder über das Hormon Testosteron^^

Zur Ergänzung des Gastartikels noch einige Links:

Liebe als Sucht bzw. Sucht als Liebe und das Liebesleben von Wühlmäusen

Ich habe das sehr interessante Buch „The Chemistry between us“ gelesen, welches ich empfehlen kann. Es werden einige sehr interessante Punkte dargestellt, sowohl zur Forschung von Geschlechterunterschieden als auch insbesondere dazu, wie wir Lieben und wie sich Bindung entwickelt.

Es sind interessante Punkte in dem Buch enthalten, zu denen man dutzende Artikel schreiben könnte. Ich fange mal mit einem an, der auch in dieser Kurzzusammenfassung hier dargestellt wird:

Young has devoted his career to studying the behaviors and neural circuitry of love in the prairie vole, a rodent whose monogamous tendencies resemble our own. Once a prairie vole has found “the one,” the pair will most likely remain companions for life. Young’s research has implicated a range of chemical activities—mainly during sex—that build this lifelong bond. In particular, he uncovered how two hormones in the brain, vasopressin in male voles and oxytocin in female voles, regulate social behavior and memory—promoting the recognition of a loved one and the urge to cuddle or defend. In addition, the circulation of dopamine and opioids allows the vole to associate his or her partner with pleasure, thus strengthening their bond. Many of these molecules are identical to those activated in human bonding.

Interessant ist daran, dass es zwei Arten von Voles (Wühlmäuse) gibt, die eine ist monogam, die andere nicht. Der Wesentliche Unterschied ist wohl eben der, dass bei dem einen über Vasopressin und Oxytocin eine Bindung erfolgt und bei dem anderen nicht. Der Unterschied zwischen den beiden Arten ist relativ gering, die Unterschiede im Verhalten aber enorm.

Young führt dann verschiedene Tests auf, die nahelegen, dass die gleichen Mechanismen eben auch beim Menschen wirken.

That loving feeling comes at a price. A hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor, or CRF, builds up in the brains of paramours and parents alike. The CRF system activates a stress response, and this system elicits the painful sensations you feel when your baby cries or your boyfriend dumps you. The system may seem like a nasty trick, but it has its uses. Even when passion fades or a diaper needs changing, the sharp pangs of the CRF system keep families and loved ones together. The CRF system also contributes to the agony an addict feels after the elation wears off. Thus, the authors argue, the highs of intimacy and withdrawals of separation parallel the highs and lows that drug addicts experience.

Wenn ich mich recht erinnere, dann stellt der Autor es so dar, dass die erste Liebe (oder der erste Kick bei einer Droge) oft noch tatsächliches Glück ist, weil man in Oxytocin gebadet ist und andere glücklichmachende Hormone ausgeschüttet werden. Das bewirkt eine Bindung. Wie bei vielen positiven Reizen wird diese Ausschüttung von reinen Glückshormonen aber mit der „Gewöhnung“ an den Partner immer geringer. Es greift dann ein anderes System: Wenn man das, was einen bisher glücklich gemacht hat, nicht mehr hat, dann baut sich das oben genannte Stresshormon auf und dieser lässt dann nach, wenn man den „Reiz“ wieder ausgesetzt ist. Das bewirkt dann den Trennungsschmerz und kann in bestimmten Fällen zu einem „ich kann nicht mit ihr und ich kann nicht ohne sie“ führen: Wenn sie da ist hat man dann eben „Belohnungseffekt“ mehr, weil dieser zu abgestumpft ist, ist sie aber weg, dann stellt sich der Trennungsschmerz ein.

Ähnlich ist es wohl auch bei Drogennutzern, die eine Droge eben wie eine Liebe empfinden: Am Anfang ist es pures Glück, dann brauchen sie eine immer höhere Dosis und schließlich ist es schlicht der „Trennungsschmerz“ der bekämpft wird und man hält es nicht mehr aus und will diesen beseitigen. Hat man ihn beseitigt, dann meint man vielleicht jederzeit aufhören zu können, aber dann treten wieder die Entzugserscheinungen auf.

Hier eine andere Besprechung des Buches in der man auch sieht, wie sich dieser „Liebesentzug“ auswirkt:

To investigate the rodent version of getting hugs, and what happens in the absence of hugs from a bonded partner, Bosch took virgin males and set them up in vole apartments with roommates—either a brother they hadn’t seen in a long time or an unfamiliar virgin female. As males and females are wont to do, the boy-girl roommates mated and formed a bond. After five days, he split up half the brother pairs, and half the male-female pairs, creating what amounted to involuntary vole divorce. Then he put the voles through a series of behavioral tests.

The first is called the forced-swim test. Bosch likens it to an old Bavarian proverb about two mice who fall into a bucket of milk. One mouse does nothing and drowns. The other tries to swim so furiously the milk turns into butter and the mouse escapes. Paddling is typically what rodents will do if they find themselves in water; they’ll swim like crazy because they think they’ll drown if they don’t. (Actually, they’ll float but apparently no rodent floaters have ever returned to fill in the rest of the tribe.)

The voles that were separated from their brothers paddled manically. So did the voles who stayed with their brothers and the voles who stayed with their female mates. Only the males who’d gone through vole divorce floated listlessly as if they didn’t care whether they drowned.

„It was amazing,“ Bosch recalls. „For minutes, they would just float. You can watch the video and without knowing which group they were in, you can easily tell if it’s an animal separated from their partner, or still with their partner.“ Watching the videos of them bob limply, it’s easy to imagine them moaning out „Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone“ with their tiny vole voices.

Die armen Wühlmäuse.

Man stelle es sich mit ihm an der Gitarre vor:

Prairie vole (Prärie Wühlmaus)

Prairie vole (Prärie Wühlmaus) (ein Bild mit Gitarre war nicht zu finden, aber er schaut immerhin traurig)

Das Leben von Laborwühlmäsuen ist allerdings auch so hart:

Next Bosch subjected the voles to a tail-suspension test. This test uses the highly sophisticated technique of duct taping the end of an animal’s tail to a stick and suspending it. As in the swim test, a rodent thus suspended will usually flail and spin his legs like a cartoon character who’s run off the edge of a cliff. Once again, though, while the other males did just that, the divorced males hung like wet laundry.

In a final behavior test, Bosch placed the voles on an elevated maze, like the ones we’ve already described that tested anxiety. On such a maze, the animal’s desire to investigate fights with its fear of exposed areas. Compared to the other voles, the divorced males were significantly less likely to explore the open arms of the maze.

All these tests, commonly used to test lab animals for depression, showed that if you separate a pair-bonded male vole from his mate, you’ll get a very mopey vole who uses what’s called passive-stress coping to deal with the overwhelming anxiety of partner loss. „When the separation takes place, this is what causes the animals to feel so bad,“ Bosch explains. „We found this increased depressive behavior and that tells us the animal is not feeling well.“ He doesn’t mean „under the weather,“ he means the divorced voles are emotionally miserable. „It is like when my wife went to the States for a post-doc for one year, so I knew I wouldn’t see her for at least six months. Well, I was sitting at home, laying on the couch, not motivated to do anything, not to go out and meet friends like I usually would.“

Es ist interessant, dass wir hier den Tieren ganz ähnlich sind und das in beiden Fällen bestimmte Chemikalien am Werk sind, ohne die wir uns nicht auf diese Weise verhalten würden (wie die andere Art von Voles zeigt, die nicht monogam ist).

Dann wurde versucht, die Wirkung mit Drogen nachzustellen:

Koob and others have used drugs to create the very same behavior in other lab animals. When the drugs are taken away from rats and mice, they display the same passive responses to elevated mazes. They withdraw socially. They mope. Human addicts do the same, Koob points out, mentioning characters in movies like Leaving Las Vegas and Trainspotting as examples.

To explain the physiology behind this passive depression state in the separated voles, Bosch checked their chemistry. The males separated from their mates had much higher levels of corticosterone, a stress chemical, in their blood than did any of the other groups, including voles separated from their brothers. Their HPA axis was working so hard, their adrenal glands weighed more. Bosch nailed CRF’s role in driving both the HPA axis overdrive and the mopey behavior by blocking CRF receptors in the voles‘ brains. When he did, the divorced voles no longer hung limply from the sticks. They didn’t float for as long in the water. They still remembered their mates, and were still bonded to them; they just didn’t worry about it when they left them.

Das finde ich recht eindrucksvoll: Wenn bestimmte Rezeptoren blockiert sind, dann gab es keinen Liebeskummer mehr. Was die „Macht“ biologischer Systeme aus meiner Sicht gut darlegt. Theoretisch könnte man dies sicherlich auch bei Menschen machen, aber entsprechende Tests wären unethisch. Ich würde aber vermuten, dass es Menschen mit einer geringeren Ausschüttung an Stresshormonen oder schwächeren Rezeptoren gibt, die dann eben eher auf „Short Time Mating“ setzen und nicht sehr anfällig für Liebeskummer sind. Ich vermute, dass sie dann eben auch ein anderes Verhalten zeigen.

But here’s the strange thing: both the voles who stayed with their female mates and the voles who were forced to split from the females had much more CRF in the BNST than did males who lived with, or were separated from, their brothers. In other words, loads of this stress-related hormone were being pumped in both the voles who got depressed after separation and voles who were still happily bonded and didn’t show signs of passive-stress coping.

„Bonding itself produces high CRF,“ Bosch says. „But this does not mean the system is also firing.“ There is something fundamental about living with a mate that results in more CRF stress hormone in the brain, but that also prevents the engagement of the HPA stress axis as long as the mates stay together. Using an interesting metaphor for bonding, Bosch says „I compare it to a rifle. As soon as they form a pair-bond, the rifle is loaded with a bullet. But the trigger isn’t pulled unless there is separation.“ He thinks that vasopressin serves as the chemical trigger to fire off the HPA axis during separation, though the exact roles of both oxytocin and vasopressin are still unclear.

Addicted drug users load the rifle, too. The gun won’t fire unless they stop taking the drug. For the bonded voles, „it won’t fire unless the partner leaves the nest,“ Bosch says.

Das ist ein interessanter Mechanismus. Er bewirkt zum einen Bindung, aber er lässt uns wahrscheinlich auch gleichzeitig eher die Möglichkeit, den Partner zu wechseln. Bei einem neuen Partner wird eben dann wieder Vasopressin, Oxytocin etc ausgeschüttet und damit das System wieder in Schach gehalten. Weswegen derjenige mit neuem Partner die Trennung auch besser verkraftet während der Verlassene das weit weniger kompensieren kann. Es verhindert also ein Verlassen sofern man nicht etwas besseres findet (statt wie beim ersten Verliebt sein den Partner unter der Ausschüttung der Hormone zu verklären). Wobei der Trennungsschmerz den Wechsel auch nicht zu einfach machen wird.

Veränderungen im weiblichen Gehirn durch und nach der Schwangerschaft

Ich lese gerade „The Chemistry between us“ und bisher ist es ein sehr interessantes Buch, auf das ich sicherlich noch häufiger zurückkommen werde.

Ein Kapitel behandelt den „Mutterinstinkt“, der nach den dortigen Angaben durch Hormone in der Schwangerschaft verstärkt aktiviert wird und bei dem bestimmte Teile des Gehirns so umgebaut werden, dass gewisse Denkweisen verändert/gefördert werden, also zb das Gehirn stärker auf klassische Reize, etwa ein Kinderlächeln anspricht.

Die ersten dort erwähnten Studien sind solche an Ratten:

This article reviews the current state of our knowledge about the hormonal basis of maternal behavior in the rat. Considered are the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone, the pituitary hormones β-endorphin and prolactin, and the hormone oxytocin, secreted by several hypothalamic nuclei and associated brain regions. The hormones of pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone, prime the female to respond to a terminal rise in estrogen that stimulates a high level of maternal responsiveness even before parturition begins. Studies on the role of prolactin, using hypophysectomy, prolactin release blockers and anterior pituitary and prolactin replacement, indicate that prolactin is required for the ovarian hormones to be effective in stimulating maternal behavior. During the latter half of pregnancy, placental lactogen may displace prolactin in this role. Although prolactin serves as a chronic stimulus for maternal behavior, it also may act over a short period. Oxytocin stimulates maternal behavior in a specific strain of rat, but not in other strains, and only when administered introcerebroventricularly (ICV) in estrogen-primed females. The decline in the high brain levels of β-endorphin around parturition has been proposed as a requirement for the onset of maternal behavior, morphine blocks the onset of maternal behavior and disrupts ongoing maternal behavior and maternal aggression in lactating females. However, blocking β-endorphin action at parturition interferes with pup cleaning and eating of the placenta as well.

Quelle: Hormonal basis during pregnancy for the onset of maternal behavior in the rat


Intracerebroventricular administration of oxytocin to virgin female rats that had been ovariectomized and primed with estrogen 48 hours previously induced a rapid onset of full maternal behavior. The maternal behavior persisted and its incidence was dose-related. Tocinoic acid, the ring structure of oxytocin, also rapidly induced the onset of persistent, full maternal behavior. Arginine vasopressin induced persistent maternal behavior, but this behavior had a later onset. Prostaglandin F2 alpha induced strong partial maternal behavior, which showed early onset but did not persist. Many other peptides, ovarian steroids, and prostaglandin E2 were no more effective than saline. These findings suggest that the release of oxytocin and prostaglandin F2 alpha during labor may promote maternal behavior in rats.

Quelle: Oxytocin induces maternal behavior in virgin female rats


ABSTRACT Oxytocin produces uterine contractions and milk ejection, functions related to parturition and nurturing. Studies were conducted to determine if this peptide, native to the brain and the posterior pituitary gland, plays a role in the induction of maternal behavior. Intact virgin female rats were given 0.4 ,g of oxytocin, 0.4 1&g of [Arg8Jvasopressin, or saline through lateral ventricular cannulae. Forty-two percent of intact
rats receiving oxytocin displayed full maternal behavior towards foster pups. None of the saline- or vasopressin-treated animals displayed full maternal behavior. Criteria in five behavioral categories had to be fulfilled by an animal within 2 hr of injection for its behavior to be considered fully maternal. When partial maternal responses were considered, oxytocin was significantly more effective than saline and marginally more effective than vasopressin. Five animals responding fully maternally after oxytocin injection were allowed to stay with pups for 10 days. All five continued to display full maternal behavior during this time. Nearly all animals that responded fully maternally to oxytocin injection were in the last day of diestrus or in proestrus or estrus. This suggested that elevated or recently elevated levels of estrogen may be necessary for the induction
of full maternal behavior by oxytocin. Twenty-seven virgin female rats were ovariectomized and given either 100 fig of estradiol benzoate per kg in oil subcutaneously or oil alone immediately after operation. Forty-eight hours later, all animals received 0.4 gtg of oxytocin intracerebroventricularly. Eleven of 13 estrogen-primed animals became fully maternal; none of 14 nonprimed animals became fully maternal.

Quelle: Induction of maternal behavior in virgin rats after intracerebroventricular administration of oxytocin (PDF)

Bei Menschen finden sich einige interessante Angaben zu den diesbezüglichen Veränderungen:

The amygadala, prefrontal cortex and hypothalamus begin to change during pregnancy due to the high levels of stress experienced by the mother during this time.[33]

In human mothers there was a correlation between increased gray matter volume in the substantia nigra and positive emotional feelings towards the infant.[34][35]

Other changes such as menstrual cycle,[36] hydration, weight and nutrition[37][38] may also be factors which trigger the maternal brain to change during pregnancy and postpartum.

Maternal experience alters behaviors which stem from the hippocampus such as enhancing spatial navigation learning and behaviors linked with anxiety.[27]

Recent research has begun to look at how maternal psychopathology affects the maternal brain in relation to parenting. Daniel Schechter and colleagues have studied specifically interpersonal violence-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and comorbiddissociation as associated with specific patterns of maternal neural activation in response to viewing silent video-stimuli of stressful parent-toddler interactions such as separation versus less-stressful ones such as play.[39][40] Importantly, less medial prefrontal cortexactivity and greater limbic system activity (i.e. entorhinal cortex and hippocampus) were found among these post-traumatically stressed mothers of toddlers compared to mothers of toddlers without PTSD in response to stressful parent-child interactions as well as, within a different sample, in response to menacing adult male-female interactions. In the latter study, this pattern of corticolimbic dysregulation was linked to less observed maternal sensitivity during mother-child play.[41] Decreased ventral-medial prefrontal cortex activity in violence-exposed mothers, in response to viewing their own and unfamiliar toddlers in video-clips of separation versus play, has also been associated with increased PTSD symptoms, parenting stress and decreased methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene.[42]

Dort findet sich auch ein interessanter, wenn auch kurzer Abschnitt zu Veränderungen im Gehirn des Vaters.

Und eine andere Studie wird hier besprochen:

New moms may feel their brain cells dying with every cumulative hour of sleep loss. But a new study offers hope.

In the first months after giving birth, the study found, parts of a mother’s brain may actually grow. Even better news, doting mamas who gushed the most about how special and perfect their babies were showed the most growth.

The parts of the brain that grew are involved in motivation, reward behavior and emotion regulation. That suggests that, by reshaping itself, the post-partum brain motivates a mother to take care of her baby, and then feel happy and rewarded when she does.

The findings may eventually help women who feel disconnected from their babies or even hostile toward them in the early months, said lead author Pilyoung Kim, a developmental psychologist, now at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md.

„We could maybe compare brain changes in mothers who were depressed or had problems bonding with their infants to normal mothers,“ said Kim, who was at Yale University when she did the work. „And we might be able to develop some kind of intervention programs to help mothers feel more rewarded about their parenting and their baby.“

During pregnancy and the post-partum period, women often feel their brains turning to mush. New moms report that they have trouble remembering things that they used to remember easily. It’s such a common phenomenon that women often call it „Mommy Brain.“ Some research has even shown that women’s brains shrink slightly during pregnancy.

But studies in mice, rats, and other mammals have shown growth and other physical changes in the brains of new mothers. These changes appear to prepare the animals for their new roles. And the mothers‘ brains remain altered for the rest of their lives.

To see if the similar changes might happen in people, Kim and colleagues scanned the brains of 19 mothers a few weeks after giving birth and again three to four months later. Their results, published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, showed a small but significant amount of growth in a number of brain regions, including the hypothalamus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala.

These are the areas that motivate a mother to take care of her baby, feel rewarded when the baby smiles at her, and fill her with positive emotions from simple interactions with her infant. These brain areas are also involved in planning and foresight, which might help a mother anticipate her infant’s needs and be prepared to meet them.

In other words, basic changes in the brain might explain the unconditional love, constant worrying and snack-packing habits that many people call a „maternal instinct.“

The researchers speculate that pregnancy hormones prime the brain to be open to reshaping when a newborn arrives. And while it’s not yet clear whether changes in a mother’s brain stimulate her to care for her child, or whether caring for a child changes the brain, the study showed a clear relationship. What’s more, mothers who talked most positively about their babies underwent the biggest changes.

There are good genetic reasons why having a baby might re-sculpt a woman’s brain for the benefit of her baby, said Craig Kinsley, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond in Virginia. A mother passes her genes to her children, after all, and she’ll do what it takes to keep them alive. (Some studies suggest that the brains of fathers might undergo similar changes, too).

In one of his own studies, Kinsley found that, compared to virgin rats, mother rats were much faster at learning where to find food in a maze. In nature, that might mean that moms are quicker to find food and return to their nests, allowing them to both feed their little ones and protect them from predators.

„From an evolutionary standpoint, a mother is faced with a really significant challenge,“ Kinsley said. „She had to do everything she did before, plus a whole new suite of behaviors to keep her offspring alive. How females evolved in nature is to have their brains adapt in pregnancy, so that their young enhance their behaviors.“

As for the complete loss of memories for names, trivia and other ordinary things that come with giving birth, the brains of new moms may simply have new priorities.

„We are clearly showing that mothers have better memories about things related to their infants,“ said Kim, who has a four-month old of her own. „There are a lot of things going on, and mothers might feel forgetful about things that are not related to their infants. It’s just dependent on what is really important for us to remember at the time.“

Die dort erwähnte Studie müsste diese hier sein:

Animal studies suggest that structural changes occur in the maternal brain during the early postpartum period in regions such as the hypothalamus, amygdala, parietal lobe, and prefrontal cortex and such changes are related to the expression of maternal behaviors. In an attempt to explore this in humans, we conducted a prospective longitudinal study to examine gray matter changes using voxel-based morphometry on high resolution magnetic resonance images of mothers’ brains at two time points: 2–4 weeks postpartum and 3–4 months postpartum. Comparing gray matter volumes across these two time points, we found increases in gray matter volume of the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobes, and midbrain areas. Increased gray matter volume in the midbrain including the hypothalamus, substantia nigra, and amygdala was associated with maternal positive perception of her baby. These results suggest that the first months of motherhood in humans are accompanied by structural changes in brain regions implicated in maternal motivation and behaviors.

Quelle: The Plasticity of Human Maternal Brain: Longitudinal Changes in Brain Anatomy During the Early Postpartum Period

Aus der Studie:

This study identified structural changes in similar brain regions among human mothers during the first few postpartum months. Increased gray matter volumes in large regions of the prefrontal cortex, parietal lobe, and midbrain were found. Furthermore, a mother’s positive thoughts on her baby at the first month postpartum predicted gray matter volume increase from the first month to 3–4 months post-partum. This postpartum period marks a critical time for the development of sensitive mothering and changes in these brain regions may be important to promote sensitive maternal behaviors.

Several key maternal motivation and behavior regions including bilateral hypothalamus, amygdala, substantia nigra, and globus pallidus showed increases in gray matter volume during the early postpartum period. The animal literature underlines the importance of these structures for parenting and lesions in the hypothalamus including MPOA impairs maternal motivation and in the MPOA regions increase the likelihood of infanticide (Flannelly, Kemble, Blanchard, & Blanchard, 1986; Novakova, Sterc, Kuchar, & Mozes, 1993). Structural reorganization in the MPOA was also found to be sensitive to postpartum experience; the increased amount of interactions with pups was associated with greater density in MPOA in rat mothers (Featherstone et al., 2000; Fleming & Korsmit, 1996; Lonstein et al., 1998). An increase in gray matter volumes was also found in the right substantia nigra, a key region of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system responsible for processing reward signals (Schultz, Dayan, & Montague, 1997). During the postpartum period, SN serves an important function in activating positive responses to pup stimuli through dopamine neurons. The ventral pallidum, a part of the globus pallidus, receives inputs from substantia nigra and regulates motor activities and behavioral reactivity (Nestler, 2001). Hypothalamus and globus pallidus have previously been implicated in maternal responses to infant stimuli in humans (Bartels & Zeki, 2004; Lorberbaum et al., 2002). Finally, amygdala activations has been found to be important for maternal behaviors in rodents and nonhuman primates (Kling & Steklis, 1976; Sheehan, Paul, Amaral, Numan, & Numan, 2001). Activations of the amygdala, particularly the medial amygdala, inhibit maternal responses to pup in virgin rats. However, animal studies suggest that once mothers are exposed to their offspring, such pathways involving the medial amygdala may be a key to consolidating maternal learning about the infant (Fleming, Gavarth, & Sarker, 1992; Mayes, 2006). Thus, interactions with the infant during the first postpartum months may be associated with the increased gray matter volumes in the hypothalamus, substantia nigra, globus pallidus, and amygdala may help the mothers activate their maternal motivation and respond to infant cues.

Furthermore, the structural changes in the midbrain region including the hypothalamus, substantia nigra, globus pallidus, and amygdala over time were predicted by a mother’s positive perception of her baby at the first month postpartum. Thus, the mother’s positive feelings on her baby may facilitate the increased levels of gray matter volume. fMRI studies with human mothers have similarly shown that greater substantia nigra responses to infant stimuli were correlated with the mother’s self-reported positive emotional reactions to infant stimuli (Bartels & Zeki, 2004; Noriuchi et al., 2007).

Several brain regions implicated in somatosensory information processing also showed an increase in gray matter over the first postpartum months. These findings may provide evidence that these changes in parent brain structure require exposure to infant-related stimuli. In rats, a rich amount of olfactory, auditory, somatosensorial, and visual information during physical interactions with pups and suckling stimuli during nursing were associated with the reorganization of the thalamus, parietal lobe, and someosensory cortex in lactating mothers (Kinsley et al., 2008; Lonstein et al., 1998; Xerri et al., 1994). Moreover, these changes in the parietal cortex only occurred when mothers interacted with their pups but not when they were only exposed to the pups’ smells or sounds (Fleming & Korsmit, 1996). It would be of interest to examine whether the increased gray matter volumes found here in the thalamus, precentral and postcentral gyrus, and superior parietal lobe from the first to fourth month postpartum are related to the frequency and quality of the mother’s interactions with her infant.

Another large area that showed an increase in gray matter volume was the prefrontal cortex (PFC), including the superior, middle and medial frontal cortices. Afonso and colleagues (2007) found that mother rats with medial prefrontal cortex lesions exhibited deficits in a certain maternal behaviors such as pup retrievals and licking behavior, but not in nest building or pup mouthing. Thus, it is possible that the increase in gray matter volumes in the PFC reported here is associated with the mothers’ adaptation to orchestrate a new and increased repertoire of complex interactive behaviors with infants during the early postpartum. Neuroimaging data highlights the importance of the PFC in parenting behaviors; greater activations in frontal regions including superior and middle frontal gyrus (BA 9, 10) and medial frontal guys (BA8) have been found in almost every fMRI study of human mothers’ responses to infant stimuli (reviewed in Swain et al., 2007).

In addition to parenting experience during the early postpartum period, several other factors may be associated with changes in gray matter volumes in mothers’ brain should be monitored in future studies. Animal studies demonstrate that hormones including estrogen, oxytocin, and prolactin act in several brain areas to activate maternal behaviors in response to infant-related stimuli (Pedersen, Caldwell, Peterson, Walker, & Mason, 1992; Wamboldt & Insel, 1987) and changes in these hormones during the early postpartum period affect anatomical changes (Rosenblatt, 2002). Experience during the pregnancy, for instance, increased amount of stress, may also be associated with structural changes in mothers’ brain regions susceptive to stress exposure including amygdala, hypothalamus, and PFC (McEwen, 2007). A future study may include gray matter volumes during the pregnancy as a baseline and compare them with the ones during the postpartum period. Other factors such as changes in menstrual cycles (Protopopescu et al., 2008) or in hydration, weight and nutritional status (Castro-Fornieles et al., 2009; Raji et al., 2010) may also produce alterations in the brain structure. Studies comparing the gray matter volumes between new mothers and age-matched women with no parenting experience would be helpful to control these factors to assess the apparent new learning that may be occurring (Draganski & May, 2008; Driemeyer, Boyke, Gaser, Büchel, & May, 2008).

Auch noch eine interessante Studie dazu:

Infant cues, such as smiling or crying facial expressions, are powerful motivators of human maternal behavior, activating dopamine-associated brain reward circuits. Oxytocin, a neurohormone of attachment, promotes maternal care in animals, although its role in human maternal behavior is unclear. We examined 30 first-time new mothers to test whether differences in attachment, based on the Adult Attachment Interview, were related to brain reward and peripheral oxytocin response to infant cues. On viewing their own infant’s smiling and crying faces during functional MRI scanning, mothers with secure attachment showed greater activation of brain reward regions, including the ventral striatum, and the oxytocin-associated hypothalamus/pituitary region. Peripheral oxytocin response to infant contact at 7 months was also significantly higher in secure mothers, and was positively correlated with brain activation in both regions. Insecure/dismissing mothers showed greater insular activation in response to their own infant’s sad faces. These results suggest that individual differences in maternal attachment may be linked with development of the dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine systems.

Quelle:  Adult Attachment Predicts Maternal Brain and Oxytocin Response to Infant Cues

Hier könnte man vermuten, dass die sicherere Bindung eben gerade die Folge davon ist, dass ihr Gehirn auf bestimmte Reize mit „Belohnung“ reagiert.Wie immer gibt es in der Natur Vielfalt.