26 July 2007

Totally Testosterone

Watching a documentary today, the light bulb shone down on my, recently discovered, male thinking brain. Academics find that finger of destiny points their way. Male scientists are good at research because they have the hormone levels of women and long index fingers, a new study says. The study at the University of Bath, which as been submitted to the British Journal of Psychology, also found that:
1.) these hormonal levels may make male scientists less likely to have children.
2.)those men with a higher level of estrogen were more likely than average to have relatives with dyslexia, which may in part be caused by hormonal levels.
3.)women social scientists tended to have higher levels of testosterone, making their brains closer to those of males in general.

The study drew on work in the last few years which established that the levels of estrogen and testosterone a person has can be seen in the relative length of their index (second) and ring (fourth) fingers. The ratio of the lengths is set before birth and remains the same throughout life. The length of fingers is genetically linked to the sex hormones, and a person with an index finger shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone while in the womb, and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more estrogen. The difference in the lengths can be small – as little as two or three per cent – but important.

A survey of the finger lengths of over 100 male and female academics at the University by senior Psychology lecturer Dr Mark Brosnan has found that those men teaching hard science like mathematics and physics tend to have index fingers as long as their ring fingers, a marker for unusually high estrogen levels for males. It also found the reverse: those male academics with longer ring fingers than index fingers – the usual male pattern – tended not to be in science but in social science subjects such as psychology and education.

"The results are a fascinating insight into how testosterone and estrogen levels in the womb can affect people's choice of career and how these levels can show up in the length of fingers on our hands," said Dr Brosnan. He said that men having levels of testosterone very much higher than normal for males would also create the right hemisphere dominated brain, which could help in science. The extremes of low testosterone and high testosterone for men would create the scientific brain, and the normal range in the middle would create the 'social science' brain.

The question also arises as to why more women, who have this lower level of testosterone, are not in science, which is male-dominated, with only one in 40 science professors being a woman. The short answer is that we don't know: the high levels of estrogen in women may act differently on the brain and not give them the spatial skills that men with similar levels of the hormone have.

So, I am not too sure what all these means, but look athe that ring and index finger difference! My levels of testosterone must be comparable to the meatheads in a high school weight room! I think this means I am much better at spacial problem solving, than the social graces of the common cocktail party. Just what I need, and excuse backed by science.

1 comment:

Q said...

Interesting. My index finger is clearly longer than my ring finger, yet I have higher than normal androgen levels, for a girl.

I also have a decent spatial recognition.

Perhaps someone needs to fly me to Bath so they can study me?