Wearing your heart on your sleeve is merely an adage, but most people do display their emotions – even if unintentionally – on their faces. Women tend to be better than men at reading other people’s subtle facial cues, especially cues from the eyes. Because of the gender difference in cognitive empathy – the ability to notice and correctly interpret body language – psychobiologistsscientists that study psychology from a biological perspective, or vice versa have hypothesized that testosterone – a sex hormone present in much higher levels in males versus females levels – could play a role in “mind reading” ability, or lack thereof.

A new study in PNASProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences validates this hypothesis by demonstrating that a dose of testosterone can make women lose some of their cognitive empathy. Researchers recruited 16 young women (age 20-25) to participate in their study. The women were given either a testosterone pill or a placebo, and then tested on their ability to assess emotions based on photographs of eyes. The test the women took is called the Adult Eyes Test, and is available for free from the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge. Here’s a sample question (formatting is slightly modified):

For the correct answer, click here.

Each woman was tested twice – once with placebo and once with real testosterone (in random order; they didn’t have any idea which was which). 75% of the women performed worse on the “mind reading” test after taking testosterone than after taking a placebo. So to a first approximation, an artificial increase in testosterone levels impaired women’s abilities to interpret facial expressions.

But the results aren’t quite that simple. Some women were less affected by the extra testosterone than others, and the researchers had a hunch that this could relate to their exposure to testosterone in the womb. All fetuses are exposed to testosterone while developing, but to different extents. There is a simple way to qualitatively measure fetal testosterone exposure – this parameter is believed to be correlated to the adult ratio of ring finger length to index finger length (see picture at the top of this post).

Larger ratios of ring finger to index finger lengths correspond to higher fetal testosterone levels. This study showed no difference between the inherent expression-reading ability of women exposed to higher vs. lower doses of testosterone in the womb. However, the women with longer ring fingers (higher fetal testosterone) seemed to be more easily impaired when given a dose of testosterone in pill form.

Thus, this study demonstrated that (1) testosterone administered to women can impair their ability to read facial expressions, and (2) women who experienced more testosterone in the womb are more sensitive to the effects of testosterone administered as adults. Nothing further can be definitively gathered from these results, but they seem to suggest that men’s testosterone levels could be to blame for their increased confusion about what others (especially women!) are thinking/feeling.
PS. A brand new study reported by researchers from Florida has recently (sep 2011) presented proof that fingers have hormonal receptors!
Via: ICanHasScience

The following finger length study presents a likewise effect:

How lingerie can sharpen the financial mind


Just to avoid misunderstandings, I will briefly describe each of the hand lines in the picture above:

Line 1 = extra crease on the 1st phalange (beyond the distal interphalangeal crease)
Line 2 = extra crease on the 2nd phalange (in 1 or more fingers)
Line 3 = single crease on the pinky finger
Line 4 = extra crease on the thumb
Line 5 = ‘hockey-stick crease’
Line 6 = simian crease
Line 7 = Sydney crease
Line 8 = transverse hypothenar crease
Line 9 = secondary creases: unusually high density

The names of the 9 disorders are:

A = Alagille syndrome (= genetic disorder related to e.g. the liver, heart & kidney)
B = Coffin-Lowry syndrome (= genetic disorder: e.g. mental problems, health)
C = Down’s syndrome (= genetic disorder: trisomy 21, e.g. mental handicap, health)
F = Edward’s syndrome (= genetic disorder: trisomy 18, e.g. low rate of survival)
D = Fetal alcohol syndrome (= caused by alcohol abuse during pregnancy)
E = Fragile X syndrome (= genetic disorder: Xq27, e.g. mental handicap, autism)
G = Pit-Rogers-Dank syndrome (= e.g. growth disorder, mental retardation)
H = Schizophrenia (= psychiatric disorder)
I = Sickle Cell Diseases (= blood disorder)

The QUIZ-task is very simple:
‘Which line (in the picture above) belongs to which disorder?’

(You can submit your answers as a response to this blog post, but you can also discuss the details at the Modern Hand Reading Forum, at:     The ‘Weird-Hand-Lines QUIZ’ – part 2)

Some ‘clues’ for finding the right connections are provided by MEDICAL HAND ANALYSIS.

Professor John T. Manning explains how finger length relates to testosterone & athletic behavior.

Last year NextNature reported that job interviews might get replaced by brain scans within five years. But our bodies presents another biometric measure that correlates with social ability – it’s in the ratio of your fingers! John T. Manning, professor in psychology, has demonstrated how his ‘controversial’ academic theory can be applied to individuals.

Academic science has developed a new theory about how finger length relates to human biology & behavior. A significant part of theory is focussed on the so-called: ‘2D:4D digit ratio’, which concerns the full length ratio of only two fingers: index finger vs. ring finger. In women the length of both fingers is usuallly about equal (2D:4D digit ratio = 1.00), while in men the ring finger is usually slightly longer (digit ratio = 0.98): a tiny sex difference.

NOTICE: This tiny sexe difference has been confirmed among many ethnic populations around the world, but one should also keep in mind that the finger length differences between ethnic populations are often larger than the finger length differences between males and females.


The earlier NextNature report described that brain scans can recognize tendencies towards autism – it concerns a matter of ‘hypermasculinity’ of the brains. The same is true for the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’: multiple international studies have revealed that people with autism usually have typical male-like finger length ratios (0.94 or lower). However – maybe less surprizing – the typical male-like low 2D:4D ratio also relates to athletic ability!


Professor John T. Manning of the University of Liverpool (School of Biological Sciences, Liverpool, UK) explains the link between finger length & athletic ability as follows (in the BBC’s ‘Secret of The Sexes‘):

“Our fingers have information about how much testosterone and how much oestrogen we’ve been exposed to in the whomb. So, the longer one’s ring finger relative to one’s index finger, the more testosterone you’ve had. And that testosterone has an effect on the brain, and on the body. If a boy has a large amount of testosterone before birth, he is likely to be born with a very efficient heart and vascular system.”

“So the longer one’s ring finger relative to one’s index finger, the faster one can run.”

The BBC’s “Secret of The Sexes” confronted the ‘finger Professor’ with six athletes – all 5000 meter specialists, and asked him to “predict” the outcome of the race based on finger length only. Actually, the BBC provided Manning photocopies of the athletes hands, and in return Professor Manning risked his reputation by providing the results of a race that had yet to be run.

The outcome of the experiment is unvealed “LIVE” in the video. And surprizingly… the theory appeared to be pretty accurate in practice. After Manning & the athletes are controfonted with the results Manning summarizes:

“… We’ve got four out of six right, but the two that are wrong were kind a quite close.”

The winner of the 5000 meter race responds:

“I thought… that finger thing is bullox because there are so many variables… I am very impressed”.


Manning’s theory was also confirmed by the results of various studies e.g. on endurance running & sprinting speed. And in another likewise experiment finger length correctly predicted the outcome of a 100 meters race with 5 young sprinters.


In his second book – titled ‘The Finger Book‘ – Professor Manning explains that because of the prental link with the androgens (testosterone & oestrogen), finger length studies have generally shown consequent sensible correlations with a rainbow of life issue. The tiny sex difference appears to be highly revealing, for hundreds of studies the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ appears to correlate with a wide range of topics that are usually also known for a typical male-female difference, including: musical ability, personality, health, and even sexual preference. More articles & reports are available at: finger length & digit ratio news.

The following three videos present more materials from the episode ‘Brain Sex’ of the BBC’s “Secrets of The Sexes” – that relate to finger length – including social ability: in the second and third video Manning explains how finger length is related to in respective: performance in spatial-visual tasks and another typical sexe-related aspect of personality: the ability to empathize!

NOTICE: You can see the complete movie (three episodes) at: CORNEL1801.


NOTICE: Measuring the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ is really a matter of measuring the full length of both fingers. Two additional tips to avoid: 1 – don’t try to ‘judge’ the 2D:4D digit ratio with bare eyes only (conscientious measurment + calculation is a necessity) 2 – one can not find the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ from the back of the hand, nor the tips of the fingers only.

Source picture: University of Cambridge.
University of Cambridge: how to measure the 2D:4D digit ratio.


In 2008 Professor Chris McManus of the University College London (Psychology and Medical Education) characterized Manning’s finger research as follows:

“Chiromancy, the notorious pseudoscience that Sir Walter Scott bracketed with physiognomy, astrology and “other fantastic arts of prediction”, has for two decades been creeping back into scientific favour. And John Manning is its high priest. In The Finger Book, he [Manning] writes: “I believe that the pattern and nature of our decline in middle life and the disease which will eventually lead to our death, is dependent to a large extent on our experiences as a foetus”, a phrase that could almost have been written by Cheiro, the early 20th-century society palmist.”

Because of the obvious association with the divination aspect of palmistry (which is still very popular in various countries such as India & Pakistan), the issue of the ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ will probably continue to have a controversial status.

More ‘Next Nature’ reports? – See: www.nextnature.net.
More ‘2D:4D digit ratio’ reports? – See: www.handresearch.com.

27 Characteristics of the hand in Fragile X syndrome (Xq27).

Phantom picture of the hand in Fragile X syndrome!

In 1986 A. Rodewald et al. presented the first ‘phantom picture’ describing the typical hand characteristics in Fragile X syndrome (e.g. hand calluses & flexible finger phalange joints). But more detailed ‘phantom pictures’ were never presented since then. This month (february 2010) a more detailed updated version of the visualisation became available – featuring 28 characteristics of the hand in Fragile’s syndrome!

What are the most common hand characteristics in Fragile X syndrome?

A common characteristic is the presence of the famous ‘simian line‘; an alternative is the presence of a Sydney line.

Here one should especially notice the fingerprints of the 3rd finger (and the 2nd + 4th finger); often these demonstrate the presence of ‘radial loop’ patterns and/or arch patterns (the normal ‘ulnar loop’ patterns are less common in Fragile X syndrome) – combined with a ‘transverse’ pattern in the palmar ridge lines in the distal palmar zone.

The palm width (hand breadth) is relatively broad, and the palm length is usually a bit short. Finger length is relatively long compared to the palm length, but slightly short compared to the palm breadth.

NOTICE: The author of the new ‘phantom picture’ for Fragilex syndrome described a specific guideline which states that in most cases of Fragile X syndrome certain combinations of the 28 characteristics are found in both the fingers AND the palm of the hand!

More details available at:
How to use the famous ‘simian crease’ as a marker in Fragile X syndrome!

Photo: example of a baby hand with hyperextensible finger joints – a common feature in Fragile X syndrome.
Example of a baby hand with hyperextensible finger joints - a common feature in Fragile X syndrome.

Example of a left hand with a 'whorl' on the mount of Moon (hypothenar).

New research links the ‘Moon whorl’ with autism! (On top of Down syndrome & schizophrenia)

In 1892, Sir Francis Galton published his highly influential book, ‘Finger Prints’ in which he described his classification system based on the number of triradii. On of the 3 most well-known fingerprint types is the ‘whorl’ (next to the ‘loop’ and ‘arch’), which is often found on the fingertips – but rarely found on the hypothenar (in palistry: ‘mount of Moon’)!

What was already known about the ‘hypothenar whorl’?

Quote from the article:

“While the classic palmistry literature describes that the ‘hypothenar whorl’ (a.k.a. ‘whorl on mount of Moon’) can be recognized as a sign for finding a ‘highly imaginative person’, various scientific studies have indicated that dermatoglyphic whorls on the mount of moon are linked with Down’s syndrome + a few other medical problems.”


Another quote from the article:

“A study on the hands of 30 people with autism (25 men, 5 women) revealed a surprizing high percentage of a specific (very rare) variant of the ‘hypothenar whorl’ – the ‘hypothenar composite whorl’.”

Some examples of the ‘hypothenar composite whorl’ are presented below.
3 Examples of a variant of the 'hypothenar whorl': the 'hypothenar composite whorl'.

In the perspective of the fact that in the science of fingerprints the ‘composite whorl’ is related to the ‘double loop’, it is interesting to notice here that the new finding relates to an earlier reported finding which pointed out that the hands of people with autism are often featured with a ‘double loop’ in the fingerprint of the pinky finger and the presence of 2 palmar loops below that 5th finger.

In cases you’re interested to learn more about the basics of fingerprint classification – the illustration below describes the 8 most common types of fingerprints (including: 2 ‘arch’ variants, 2 ‘loop’ variants, and 4 ‘whorl’ variants).

NOTICE: The ‘composite whorl’ whorl does not belong to the 8 basic fingerprint types (the name ‘double loop whorl’ in the picture below is traditionally described as a ‘double loop’).

The 8 basic fingerprints types.


How fingerprinting works!
Forensic experts say: ‘fingerprints reveal more’!
A historical review of research on dermatoglyphics!

Finger length measurements.

Tall, short, or got a small head?
Don’t forget to take a look at your fingers!

Recently Roger Dobson – author at MailOnline.co.uk presented an interesting article titled: ‘Tall, short – or got a small head? Here’s what your physique reveals about your health’. In his article he described how various body dimensions – varying from your height to your foot size – can indicate a wealth of information about your risk of conditions, from cancer through to dementia and heart disease. You can read below what Roger Dobson wrote about the 2D:4D finger length ratio – a hand characterstic that has become very well-known in the past few years through the work and the two books of ‘the finger’ Professor John T. Manning

Roger Dobson wrote in his article about the hand:


Autism and ADHD, mental illness/depression

A range of disorders has been linked to the length of fingers, and in particular the ratio between index and ring fingers. The ratio is thought to be a marker of what was happening hormonally in the womb when the foetus developed.

It’s thought a relatively long ring finger is a sign that the foetus was exposed to higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, while a relatively long index finger is a marker of the female hormone, oestrogen.

Conditions associated with a long ring finger compared to the index include autism and ADHD. Those associated with a longer index include depression.

Males, who are more likely to develop autism and ADHD, tend to have a longer ring finger relative to their index finger.

Exposure to certain hormones might increase or reduce the risk of certain conditions and traits.

‘It has been suggested that autism may arise as the result of exposure to high concentrations of prenatal testosterone,’ say researchers at Liverpool University.”

The hand of Albert Einstein!

The hand of Albert Einstein!

Albert Einstein’s hand shows signs of Asperger sydrome – the high IQ variant of autism:

Researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford believe that Albert Einstein showed signs of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Marianne Raschig was able to make a handprint of Albert Einstein’s hands in 1930. Does Einstein have the typical hand features that researchers have observed in autism?

Albert Einstein’s handprints are presented at the bottom of this post (the high quality versions are available at: THE HANDS OF ALBERT EINSTEIN). Let’s take a look at the hand characteristics that have been associated with autism in varioius scientific studies:

2D:4D Finger ratio

Professor John T. Manning described in 2002 in his first book titled: ‘Digit Ratio‘ that the hand in autism is often characterised by a by a ‘2D:4D finger ratio’ of 0.94 of lower. Interestingly Albert Einstein’s digit ratio appeared to be close to 0.93!


Some Romanian researchers described in 2003 some significant results related to fingerprint asymmetries between the the right hand and the left hand. They described that they found that the hands of persons who have autism are often featured with more ‘arch’ fingerprints in the left hand and/or more ‘loop’ fingerprints in the right hand. Interestingly, Albert Einstein has 2 ‘loops’ (middle finger + pinky) in his right hand and only one ‘loop’ in his left hand (pinky)!

Unusual hand lines

In time various scientific studies have reported that the hand in autism is frequently featured with unsual palmar lines. The most important unusual palmar lines are: ‘the simian crease‘ & ‘the Sydney line‘. Interestingly, Albert Einstein has an (incomplete) Sydney line in his left hand!

The handprints of Albert Einstein.