The influence of testosterone on the development of human brain lateralization has been subject of debate for a long time, partly because studies investigating this are necessarily mostly correlational. In the present study we used a quasi-experimental approach by assessing functional brain lateralization in trans boys (female sex assigned at birth, diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, n = 21) before and after testosterone treatment, and compared these results to the functional lateralization of age-matched control groups of cisgender boys (n = 20) and girls (n = 21) around 16 years of age. The lateralization index of the amygdala was determined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an emotional face matching task with angry and fearful faces, as the literature indicates that boys show more activation in the right amygdala than girls during the perception of emotional faces. As expected, the lateralization index in trans boys shifted towards the right amygdala after testosterone treatment, and the cumulative dose of testosterone treatment correlated significantly with amygdala lateralization after treatment. However, we did not find any significant group differences in lateralization and endogenous testosterone concentrations predicted rightward amygdala lateralization only in the cis boys, but not in cis girls or trans boys. These inconsistencies may be due to sex differences in sensitivity to testosterone or its metabolites, which would be a worthwhile course for future studies.
Beking, T., Burke, S. M., Geuze, R. H., Staphorsius, A. S., Bakker, J., Groothuis, A. G. G., & Kreukels, B. P. C. (2020). Testosterone effects on functional amygdala lateralization: A study in adolescent transgender boys and cisgender boys and girls. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 111, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104461