Testosterone and estradiol produce different effects on cognitive performance in male rats

Horm Behav. 2005 Sep;48(3):268-77. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2005.03.005.


The effects of castration and hormone treatment on cognitive performance were evaluated in male rats. Castrated animals received either testosterone or estradiol and were compared with gonadally intact animals and with castrated controls. Results revealed a dissociation between the effects of testosterone and estradiol on cognitive performance in male rats. Specifically, estradiol enhanced acquisition of a delayed matching-to-position spatial task, similar to previously published observations in females. In contrast, neither castration nor testosterone treatment had any significant effect on acquisition of the delayed matching-to-position task, but did appear to affect delay-dependent working memory. None of the treatments had any significant effect on acquisition of a configural association negative patterning task, suggesting that effects on the delayed matching-to-position task were not due to effects on motivational factors. These data demonstrate that, as in females, gonadal hormones influence cognitive performance in males and suggest that estradiol and testosterone affect distinct cognitive domains.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Castration
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology*
  • Estradiol / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*
  • Testosterone / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol