Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Scott D. Moffat


The male advantage typically found on some measures of spatial cognition (e.g., mental rotations) has been approached for three decades from the perspective that androgens contribute to this sex difference. To date, evidence to support the notion that androgens affect spatial cognition in healthy young individuals is balanced by evidence to the contrary. The present study sought to clarify the association between androgens and spatial performance by extending our measurements of androgenicity to include both a measure of circulating testosterone as well as a receptor-specific marker.

The aims of this dissertation were to assess the effects of sex, testosterone, and androgen receptor CAG repeat number on spatial performance and experience in a group of healthy young men and women. The hypothesis that men would outperform women on measures of spatial skills was largely supported, with some caveats. Predictions that testosterone would relate directly to spatial performance were not confirmed; however, results indicate that number of CAG repeats may have a direct impact on cognition, and may modify the relationship between testosterone and spatial cognition within sex. Future research with larger samples of men and women is needed to clarify the significance of the patterns reported from these initial observations.