Sex hormone testosterone affects language organization in the infant brain

Neuroreport. 2008 Feb 12;19(3):283-6. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3282f5105a.


Using a phonological discrimination paradigm, we show that the brain responses of 4-week-old infants systematically vary as a function of biological sex and testosterone level. Females who are generally low on testosterone demonstrated a clear phonological discrimination effect with a bilateral distribution. In male infants this effect systematically varied as a function of testosterone level. Males with high testosterone showed no discrimination effect, whereas males with low testosterone displayed a discrimination effect, which was clearly left-lateralized. The present data provide evidence for a strong influence of testosterone on language function and lateralization already present during the first weeks of life.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Testosterone