Opposite-sex and same-sex twin studies of physiological, cognitive and behavioral traits

Linda Juel Ahrenfeldt, Kaare Christensen, Nancy L Segal, Yoon-Mi Hur

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A scientific interest in opposite-sex (OS) twins comes from animal studies showing hormone transfer between fetuses in utero. A parallel effect in humans may occur, especially for OS females who may be exposed to androgens, in particular testosterone, from the male co-twin. Conversely, OS males may be exposed to lower levels of prenatal testosterone than do same-sex (SS) males. In this special issue, we reviewed published studies investigating potential differences between OS and SS twins in physiological, cognitive and behavioral traits focusing on the Twin Testosterone Transfer (TTT) hypothesis. Sixty articles fulfilled the eligibility criteria including 23 studies published since the review by Tapp et al. (2011). In general, studies of cognition are conflicting, but it is the phenotype for which most support for the TTT hypothesis is found. Less consistent evidence has been found regarding physiological and behavioral traits. We hope that this special issue will stimulate a discussion about how an investigation of the TTT hypothesis should continue in future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
Pages (from-to)322-340
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Masculinization
  • Opposite-sex
  • Physiology
  • Same-sex
  • Sex differences
  • Testosterone
  • Twins


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