Cognitive sex differences and hemispheric asymmetry: A critical review of 40 years of research

  title={Cognitive sex differences and hemispheric asymmetry: A critical review of 40 years of research},
  author={Marco Hirnstein and Kenneth Hugdahl and Markus Hausmann},
  journal={Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition},
  pages={204 - 252}
ABSTRACT According to a longstanding view, sex differences in cognitive abilities such as mental rotation or verbal memory arise from sex differences in hemispheric asymmetry: males are thought to be more lateralized than females which boosts their spatial but hampers their verbal skills. This idea sparked great interest and, even though it lost support in the 1990s, it is still put forward in contemporary (popular) scientific papers and textbooks. We aimed to provide a comprehensive review… 

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Magnitude of sex differences in visual search varies with target eccentricity

A recent meta-analysis found no support for the popular theory that superior visuospatial ability in males is attributable to their relatively greater hemispheric asymmetry of neural functions.

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It is demonstrated that sex modulates the resources recruited to performed this spatial task, and females exhibited more negative slow wave activity during the encoding phase compared to males.

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Spatial anxiety and self-confidence mediate sex/gender differences in mental rotation

A recent meta-synthesis study with a sample of >12 million participants revealed that the male advantage in mental rotation (MR) is the largest cognitive sex/gender difference found in psychological



Sex differences in human brain asymmetry: a critical survey

  • J. Mcglone
  • Psychology, Biology
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • 1980
Abstract Dual functional brain asymmetry refers to the notion that in most individuals the left cerebral hemisphere is specialized for language functions, whereas the right cerebral hemisphere is

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The dual-task data fit the pattern of a small but reliable population-level sex difference in human laterality, which supports the hypothesis of greater hemispheric specialization in males.

Is there a sex difference in human laterality? II. An exhaustive survey of visual laterality studies from six neuropsychology journals.

Results for visual half-field experiments are compatible with a population-level sex difference that accounts for 1 to 2% of the variance in laterality, and support the hypothesis of greater hemispheric specialization in males than in females.

A Large-Sample Study of Sex Differences in Functional Cerebral Lateralization

  • D. Boles
  • Psychology
    Journal of clinical and experimental neuropsychology
  • 2005
A large-sample, single-laboratory approach uses tasks requiring the recognition of bargraphs, dichotic words, facial emotions, locations, and visual words, andVisual line bisection, each sensitive to lateralization of a separate mental module to study the strength of relationship between sex and laterality.

On the magnitude of laterality effects and sex differences in functional lateralities.

Results showed that laterality effects tend to be large and significant but that they are heterogeneous in the visual modality, and showed sex differences to be significant in two modalities (visual and auditory).

Sex-specific lateralization of event-related potential effects during mental rotation of polygons

A bilateral brain activity for men, whereas women’s brain activity was clearly lateralized toward the left hemisphere if and only if mental rotation was involved, suggesting sex differences in functional cerebral asymmetry can indeed be observed if appropriate stimuli are used in a sufficiently large sample.

On females' lateral and males' bilateral activation during language production: a fMRI study.

Is there a sex difference in human laterality? I. An exhaustive survey of auditory laterality studies from six neuropsychology journals.

The entire contents of six neuropsychology journals were screened to identify auditory laterality experiments and the overall pattern of results is compatible with a weak population-level sex difference in hemispheric specialization.