Cognitive Abilities of Children with Hormone Abnormalties: Screening by Psychoeducational Tests

Perlman, Suzanne M.
January 1973
Journal of Learning Disabilities;Jan1973, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p21
Academic Journal
Studies of animals suggest that changes in behavior are concomitant with early administration of hormones in abnormal quantities and types, and that these changes in behavior reflect actual changes in the structure of the central nervous system. Previous psychological studies of individuals with abnormal hormone makeup also have indicated that hormones might have an effect on mental as well as physical function. In order to assess the extent to which any brain changes might be reflected in mental functioning as revealed by scores on psychoeducational tests, the cognitive behavior of children with hormone abnormalities was examined. It was hypothesized that these children would reveal particularized patterns of function comparable to those found in children with specific learning disabilities. Thirty children between the ages of 3 and 15 under medical treatment for male pseudohermaphroditism and the adrenogenital syndrome (males and females) were tested on a variety of measures found useful in differentiating children with learning disabilities. Matched controls were included in the study. The findings suggest that the contention of earlier researchers that increased androgens act to elevate overall intellectual functioning is unwarranted at this time. Boys with the adrenogenital syndrome performed the same as their normal controls in all aspects of cognitive function. In contrast, girls with the adrenogenital syndrome differed from their controls and from the normal girls in their ability to do particular tasks. The male pseudohermaphrodites, reared as girls, demonstrated intellective function similar to their normal female controls on most measures, but performed significantly poorer than their male controls on various nonverbal measures. They showed significantly higher verbal than nonverbal ability, as has been reported in earlier literature. From these findings it was inferred that abnormal hormone function may influence specific mental processes, and that these influences may be related to the sensitivity of the brain to androgens. However, the effects on central nervous system processes seem to be highly specific and far more subtle than those affecting children of a learning disability population.


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