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Letter to the Editor   |    
Cognitive Effects of Testosterone Supplementation
MARK J. SMITH, M.D., PH.D.; PETER J. SCHMIDT, M.D.; DAVID R. RUBINOW, M.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2000;157:307-a-308. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.2.307-a

To the Editor: The literature review by Harvey Sternbach, M.D. (1), on testosterone supplementation and andropause is an important contribution to our knowledge concerning the identification and management of hormone-related somatic and psychological disorders in men. We believe, however, that one of the author’s statements regarding the cognitive effects of testosterone supplementation in men may lead to an incorrect inference on the part of readers. Dr. Sternbach states that "low and high levels are associated with poorer performance" (p. 1314) on tests of spatial cognition. Indeed, this is a simple paraphrase of the conclusions of Moffat and Hampson (2), but it fails to mention that in their study, such a conclusion only applied to right-handers and reflected the combined data of the influence of testosterone level on each of the sexes, i.e., a negative correlation in men and a positive one in women (lower testosterone levels in men and higher levels in women were associated with better performance). Data from at least two studies in men (3, 4) have shown that performance on tests of spatial cognition is inversely correlated with testosterone levels—i.e., lower levels of endogenous or exogenous testosterone were associated with better performance on these tests. However, other studies with men (511) have either failed to show such an inverse correlation or have even described a positive correlation. While the data in the literature are far from consistent, it would be misleading to suggest that low and high testosterone levels are associated with poor spatial abilities in men.

Sternbach H: Age-associated testosterone decline in men: clinical issues for psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry 1998; 155:1310–  1318
 
Moffat SD, Hampson E: A curvilinear relationship between testosterone and spatial cognition in humans: possible influence of hand preference. Psychoneuroendocrinology  1996; 21:323–337
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Gouchie C, Kimura D: The relationship between testosterone levels and cognitive ability patterns. Psychoneuroendocrinology  1991; 16:323–334
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Shute VJ, Pellegrino JW, Hubert L, Reynolds RW: The relationship between androgen levels and human spatial abilities. Bull Psychon Soc  1983; 21:465–468
 
Gordon HW, Lee PA: A relationship between gonadotropins and visuospatial function. Neuropsychologia  1986; 24:563–576
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Christiansen K, Knussman P: Sex hormones and cognitive functioning in men. Neuropsychobiology  1987; 18:27–36
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Hassler M, Gupta D, Wollmann H: Testosterone, estradiol, ACTH and musical, spatial and verbal performance. Int J Neurosci  1992; 65:45–60
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Christiansen K: Sex hormone-related variations of cognitive performance in Kung San hunter-gatherers of Namibia. Neuropsychobiology  1993; 27:97–107
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Janowsky JS, Oviatt SK, Orwoll ES: Testosterone influences spatial cognition in older men. Behav Neurosci  1994; 108:325–332
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Kampen DL, Sherwin BB: Estradiol is related to visual memory in healthy young men. Behav Neurosci  1996; 110:613–617
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Alexander GM, Swerdloff RS, Wang C, Davidson T, McDonald V, Steiner B, Hines M: Androgen-behavior correlations in hypogonadal men and eugonadal men, II: cognitive abilities. Horm Behav  1998; 33:85–94
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
+

References

Sternbach H: Age-associated testosterone decline in men: clinical issues for psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry 1998; 155:1310–  1318
 
Moffat SD, Hampson E: A curvilinear relationship between testosterone and spatial cognition in humans: possible influence of hand preference. Psychoneuroendocrinology  1996; 21:323–337
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Gouchie C, Kimura D: The relationship between testosterone levels and cognitive ability patterns. Psychoneuroendocrinology  1991; 16:323–334
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Shute VJ, Pellegrino JW, Hubert L, Reynolds RW: The relationship between androgen levels and human spatial abilities. Bull Psychon Soc  1983; 21:465–468
 
Gordon HW, Lee PA: A relationship between gonadotropins and visuospatial function. Neuropsychologia  1986; 24:563–576
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Christiansen K, Knussman P: Sex hormones and cognitive functioning in men. Neuropsychobiology  1987; 18:27–36
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Hassler M, Gupta D, Wollmann H: Testosterone, estradiol, ACTH and musical, spatial and verbal performance. Int J Neurosci  1992; 65:45–60
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Christiansen K: Sex hormone-related variations of cognitive performance in Kung San hunter-gatherers of Namibia. Neuropsychobiology  1993; 27:97–107
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Janowsky JS, Oviatt SK, Orwoll ES: Testosterone influences spatial cognition in older men. Behav Neurosci  1994; 108:325–332
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Kampen DL, Sherwin BB: Estradiol is related to visual memory in healthy young men. Behav Neurosci  1996; 110:613–617
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Alexander GM, Swerdloff RS, Wang C, Davidson T, McDonald V, Steiner B, Hines M: Androgen-behavior correlations in hypogonadal men and eugonadal men, II: cognitive abilities. Horm Behav  1998; 33:85–94
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
+
+

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