Bernhard Fink, Helen Brookes, Nick Neave, John T Manning, and David C Geary (2006)

Second to fourth digit ratio and numerical competence in children

Brain and Cognition, 61(2):211-218.

The ratio between the 2nd and 4th fingers (2D:4D)—a potential proxy for prenatal testosterone (T) exposure—shows a sex difference, with males usually having lower mean values; the latter potentially indicates higher prenatal T exposure. We studied relations between 2D:4D and competencies in the domains of counting, number knowledge, and visual-number representation in 73 children aged 6–11 years. Significant negative correlations between numerical performance in all of these areas and right and left hand 2D:4D ratios were found for boys but not girls. To the extent that 2D:4D ratios reflects prenatal exposure to T, the implications are (i) high prenatal T may be associated with better performance on some basic numerical measures for boys, and (ii) prenatal exposure to T may affect boys and girls differently with respect to some numerical competencies.