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Adolescent Testosterone Enhances Adult Mating

Last Updated: May 18, 2009.

Elevated testosterone before and during adolescence enhances male mating behavior in adulthood, while increased testosterone before adolescence affects the size of various brain areas associated with mating behavior in juveniles, according to a study published online May 7 in Endocrinology.

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Elevated testosterone before and during adolescence enhances male mating behavior in adulthood, while increased testosterone before adolescence affects the size of various brain areas associated with mating behavior in juveniles, according to a study published online May 7 in Endocrinology.

Kalynn M. Schulz, Ph.D., and colleagues from Michigan State University in East Lansing treated castrated male hamsters with testosterone for 19 days before, during, or after adolescence. They also examined the effect of preadolescent testosterone treatment on mating behavior and volumes within the mating region of the brain of juvenile males.

The researchers found that testosterone treatment before or during adolescence enhanced reproductive behavior in adulthood, with preadolescent treatment being most effective. In contrast, preadolescent testosterone treatment did not induce mating behavior in juveniles but increased the size of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the sexually dimorphic nucleus, and the posterodorsal and posteroventral regions of the medial amygdalar regions to a size typical of adults. Preadolescent testosterone did not affect juvenile volumes of the anterodorsal region of the medial amygdalar region or the ventromedial hypothalamus, but these regions differed in size in adults compared with treated and untreated juveniles.

"Thus, adolescent maturation of social behavior may involve both steroid-independent and steroid-dependent processes, and adolescence marks the end of a postnatal period of sensitivity to steroid-dependent organization of the brain," Schulz and colleagues conclude.

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