Navigation Links
Sex difference on spatial skill test linked to brain structure
Date:12/17/2008

Men consistently outperform women on spatial tasks, including mental rotation, which is the ability to identify how a 3-D object would appear if rotated in space. Now, a University of Iowa study shows a connection between this sex-linked ability and the structure of the parietal lobe, the brain region that controls this type of skill.

The parietal lobe was already known to differ between men and women, with women's parietal lobes having proportionally thicker cortexes or "grey matter." But this difference was never linked back to actual performance differences on the mental rotation test.

UI researchers found that a thicker cortex in the parietal lobe in women is associated with poorer mental rotation ability, and in a new structural discovery, that the surface area of the parietal lobe is increased in men, compared to women. Moreover, in men, the greater parietal lobe surface area is directly related to better performance on mental rotation tasks. The study results were published online Nov. 5 by the journal Brain and Cognition.

"Differences in parietal lobe activation have been seen in other studies. This study represents the first time we have related specific structural differences in the parietal lobe to sex-linked performances on a mental rotation test," said Tim Koscik, the study's lead author and a graduate student in the University of Iowa Neuroscience Graduate Program. "It's important to note that it isn't that women cannot do the mental rotation tasks, but they appear to do them slower, and neither men nor women perform the tasks perfectly."

The study was based on tests of 76 healthy Caucasian volunteers -- 38 women and 38 men, all right-handed except for two men. The groups were matched for age, education, IQ and socioeconomic upbringing. When tested on mental rotation tasks, men averaged 66 percent correct compared to 53 percent correct for women. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed an approximately 10 percent difference between men and women in the overall amount of parietal lobe surface area: 43 square centimeters for men and 40 square centimeters for women.

"It's likely that the larger surface area in men's parietal lobes leads to an increase in functional columns, which are the processing unit in the cortex," said Koscik. "This may represent a specialization for certain spatial abilities in men."

The findings underscore the fact that not only is the brain structure different between men and women but also the way the brain performs a task is different, said Peg Nopoulos, M.D., a study co-author and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

"One possible explanation is that the different brain structures allow for different strategies used by men and women. While men appear able to globally rotate an object in space, women seem to do it piecemeal. The strategy is inefficient but it may be the approach they need to take," said Nopoulos, who also is a psychiatrist with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

"The big question remains whether this is nature or nurture. On the one hand, boys, compared to girls, may have opportunities to cultivate this skill, but if we eventually see both a strong performance and parietal lobe structural difference in children, it would support a biological, not just environmental, effect," Nopoulos added.


'/>"/>

Contact: Becky Soglin
becky-soglin@uiowa.edu
319-335-6660
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. An ESC statement on gender differences in medical care and survival after myocardial infarction
2. Jessica Biel and Make The Difference Network Bring Holiday Cheer to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
3. Large health differences between population groups in Norway
4. Money motivates doctors to reduce ethnic differences in heart disease treatments
5. Traditional Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage Plans: Allsup Finds Knowing the Differences Means Savings for People with Disabilities
6. No Difference in Rate of Survival for Children of Different Races Undergoing Liver Transplantation, but Long-Term Results Not as Good for African-American Adults
7. Majority of voters say election outcome will make a great deal of difference on key issues
8. Towson Student Wins Courage Award, Turns Facial Differences Into Positive Tool
9. Researchers find differences in swallowing mechanism of Rett syndrome patients
10. Gender differences and heart disease
11. States Scorecard Finds Big Differences in Kids Health Care
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Successful recruitment ... new clinical and scientific initiatives have all marked the last 12 months at ... and CEO of the nation’s oldest cancer center, Candace S. Johnson, PhD, outlined ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... York, New York (PRWEB) , ... February 05, 2016 , ... ... life? The answer may be at the tips of your toes. Foot massage, whether ... as well as pure comfort and relaxation. The American Board of Multiple Specialties ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... US Sports Camps ... in Dover, NH to direct high-performance kids yoga training. ChildLight Yoga Studio is centrally ... one hour from Boston. , ChildLight Yoga Studio founder Lisa Flynn expresses her excitement, ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Give To Cure ... search for and donate to Give To Cure’s campaign that is crowdfunding clinical trials ... users make and share payments through a smart device. In 2015 alone, Venmo processed ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 05, 2016 , ... Dr. Justin ... announce their 2nd Annual No Cost Dental Day to individuals in need. The event ... purpose of this No Cost Dental Day is to provide dental care to community ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016  SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... it has entered into a settlement agreement with ... fully resolving the SEC,s investigation into possible violations ... the terms of the settlement agreement, SciClone has ... including disgorgement, pre-judgment interest and a penalty.  This ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Feb. 4, 2016 Global Immunology Market ... to drive long-term market growth Summary ... of chronic disorders that affect 5–7% of western ... of their symptoms and key patient demographics, they ... immune pathways and an inappropriate immune response. Generally, ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... DIEGO, Feb. 4, 2016  Aethlon Medical, Inc. ... affinity biofiltration devices to treat life-threatening diseases, today ... 2016 ended December 31, 2015. ... objectives set forth in our last quarterly call, ... reinforce our long-term objective to establish the Aethlon ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: