Maturation of social cognition and a gain in social proficiency are universal aspects of adolescent development that prepare individuals for adulthood. Social cognition involves the perception and interpretation of social cues, followed by the generation of a behavioral response. Social proficiency is acquired through the ability to make behavioral adaptations as one learns from social experience; increased social proficiency facilitates successful social interactions. In males, the neuroendocrine bases of these developmental changes involve both activational and organizational influences of testicular hormones. Using the male Syrian hamster as a model, this review provides evidence that social stimuli acquire rewarding properties during adolescence via activational effects of pubertal testosterone, whereas the adolescent gain in social proficiency depends on organizational actions of pubertal testosterone.
Keywords: adolescence; puberty; social behavior; social reward; testosterone.