Testosterone and the brain

Aging Male. 2006 Dec;9(4):195-9. doi: 10.1080/13685530601040679.


Gender differences in spatial recognition, and age-related declines in cognition and mood, point towards testosterone as an important modulator of cerebral functions. Testosterone appears to activate a distributed cortical network, the ventral processing stream, during spatial cognition tasks, and addition of testosterone improves spatial cognition in younger and older hypogonadal men. In addition, reduced testosterone is associated with depressive disorders. The relationship between depression and testosterone appears to partly depend upon the androgen receptor genotype of the patient, and in appropriate patients with low testosterone levels, testosterone substitution can increase positive mood and decrease negative mood. The much publicized link between testosterone and aggression is probably only of importance in athletes who supplement their testosterone levels to excessively high levels, whereas in hypogonadal men, testosterone supplementation only enhances the positive aspects of aggression such as vigour and energy. Current data suggest that testosterone supplementation in hypogonadal men of all ages will enhance many aspects of mood and cognition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / genetics
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / complications
  • Hypogonadism / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Testosterone / deficiency
  • Testosterone / pharmacology*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Testosterone