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Interest in the influence of sex hormones within the central nervous system is a rapidly expanding area of research. A considerable amount of evidence has recently been obtained to support an important role of the gonadal steroids in cognitive processing. Not only are distinct and complementary behavioural phenotypes evident for each gender, in the case of the female but they are also reliant upon hormonal status. Gender influences and hormonal status are thus paramount and should encourage the development of more hypothesis-driven research strategies to understand gender differences in both normal behaviour and where this is altered in neuropsychiatric disorders.