Sex Differences Found In Proportions Of Gray And White Matter In The Brain: Links To Differences In Cognitive Performance Seen

tudy at lower overall proportions in women than men in the brain, suggesting that evolution has placed a priority on this structure in women.

"The implication of women having more white matter connecting between the hemispheres of the brain is that they would have better communication between the different modes of perceiving and relating to the world," says Raquel Gur. "On the other hand, men would demonstrate a stronger concentration on working within any one of those modes."

Forty men and forty women, all healthy adults, volunteered to participate in the study. Gray and white matter percentages and overall cranial volumes were assessed using three-dimensional MRI imaging techniques. Cognitive performance was measured using tasks designed to examine different types of intellectual ability. An example of a spatial task given to the study participants involved viewing an array of lines fanning out at angles. Shown a second set of two shorter lines at similar angles, the participants were asked to identify which lines in the original fan array matched the angles of the shorter lines. One verbal intelligence task involved extrapolations of word relationships. Some examples: "sailor is to navy as soldier is to: a) gun, b) cap, c) hill, d) army" and "thoughts are to brains as steam is to: a) water, b) vapor, c) boiling, d) heat."

In addition to Ruben and Raquel Gur, the coauthors on the study were Bruce I. Turetsky, Mie Matsui, Michelle Yan, Warren Bilker, and Paul Hughett. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health.


Contact: Franklin Hoke
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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