Second to fourth digit ratio and numerical competence in children

Brain Cogn. 2006 Jul;61(2):211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2006.01.001. Epub 2006 Feb 8.


The ratio between the 2nd and 4th fingers (2D:4D)-a potential proxy for prenatal testosterone (T) exposure-shows a sex difference, with males usually having lower mean values; the latter potentially indicates higher prenatal T exposure. We studied relations between 2D:4D and competencies in the domains of counting, number knowledge, and visual-number representation in 73 children aged 6-11 years. Significant negative correlations between numerical performance in all of these areas and right and left hand 2D:4D ratios were found for boys but not girls. To the extent that 2D:4D ratios reflects prenatal exposure to T, the implications are (i) high prenatal T may be associated with better performance on some basic numerical measures for boys, and (ii) prenatal exposure to T may affect boys and girls differently with respect to some numerical competencies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Child
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Fingers / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Testosterone / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Testosterone