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In utero testosterone exposure influences physiological responses to dyadic interactions in neurotypical adults

  • Anna Truzzi (a1), Vincenzo Paolo Senese (a2), Peipei Setoh (a3), Cristian Ripoli (a4) and Gianluca Esposito (a1) (a3)...

We investigated how different levels of prenatal exposure to testosterone influence physiological reactions to dyadic interactions, hypothesising that higher levels of prenatal testosterone are linked to greater physiological responses.


Autonomic nervous system responses to dyadic interactions focussed on social or physical norms were measured. Physiological assessment of excitability (heart rate, facial temperature) and a behavioural assessment (Likert items judgements) were run on 25 neurotypical participants who had distinct testosterone exposure levels in utero. In utero exposure to testosterone was assessed measuring 2D : 4D (ratio between the lengths of the index and the ring fingers).


Higher testosterone exposure participants showed greater physiological arousal: a greater heart rate decrease, independent from scenario type (p<0.05), and opposite facial temperature changes in response to social (increase) (vs.) physical scenarios (decrease) were found (Left-cheek: p<0.05; Right-cheek: p<0.05).


These findings suggest a long-term influence of prenatal environment on adults’ physiological responses during social situations.

Corresponding author
Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Corso Bettini, 31 I-38068 Rovereto (TN)-Italy. Tel: +39 0464 80 8643; Fax: +39 0464 80 8602; E-mail:
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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
  • URL: /core/journals/acta-neuropsychiatrica
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