The influence of steroid sex hormones on the cognitive and emotional processing of visual stimuli in humans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Steroid sex hormones are responsible for some of the differences between men and women. In this article, I review evidence that steroid sex hormones impact on visual processing. Given prominent sex-differences, I focus on three topics for sex hormone effects for which there is most research available: 1. Preference and mate choice, 2. Emotion and recognition, and 3. Cerebral/perceptual asymmetries and visual-spatial abilities. For each topic, researchers have examined sex hormones and visual processing using various methods. I review indirect evidence addressing variation according to: menstrual cycle phase, pregnancy, puberty, and menopause. I further address studies of variation in testosterone and a measure of prenatal testosterone, 2D:4D, on visual processing. The most conclusive evidence, however, comes from experiments. Studies in which hormones are administrated are discussed. Overall, many studies demonstrate that sex steroids are associated with visual processing. However, findings are sometimes inconsistent, differences in methodology make strong comparisons between studies difficult, and we generally know more about activational than organizational effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Neuroendocrinology
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Keywords

  • Attractiveness
  • Menopause
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Oral contraception
  • Puberty
  • Recognition
  • Steroid sex hormones
  • Vision
  • Visual processing
  • Visual-spatial

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