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Study confirms males/females use different parts of brain in language & visuospatial tasks

(Baltimore, MD) -- Differences in the way men and women perform verbal and visuospatial tasks have been well documented in scientific literature, but findings have been inconsistent as to whether men and women actually use different parts of their brains. This inconsistency has been attributed to many factors, including variability in the tasks used in studies and failure to match study participants on performance equivalency. But a new study published in the journal Brain and Language, which accounted for and corrected these methodological factors, confirmed that men and women do indeed use different parts of their brains when processing both language and visuospatial information.

At a time when 37% of boys score below basic levels on standardized academic tests, compared to 15% of girls (National Center for Education Statistics) and the rate of ADHD in boys in twice that of girls (Centers for Disease Control), this study provides a solid benchmark to use in comparing whether underlying sex differences also exist in all children. Such an inquiry can pave the way towards understanding the extent to which sex differences are developmental, sociological and/or hormonal and which differences may become more, or possibly less, distinct with age.

The study, led by Dr. Laurie Cutting and research scientist Amy Clements, both of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study thirty adult participants while performing language and visuospatial tasks. Distinct differences were evident between male and female participants. Specifically, females showed more bilateral activation in the inferior frontal gyrus for the language task than males, who were more left lateralized. The opposite pattern of lateralization was found for the visuospatial task, with males showing more bilateral activation in the parietal lobe while processing visuospatial information than females, whose activations were more right
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Contact: Corrie Allen
callen@spectrumscience.com
202-955-6222
Kennedy Krieger Institute
18-Jul-2006


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