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… 

Sex differences in hemispheric lateralization of attentional networks

A left visual field advantage for alerting defined by the differences between no-cue and center-cue conditions in the male group was found, but it was mainly attributed to the leftVisual field advantage in the no- Cue condition, which indicates that the two sexes exhibit similarities in terms of the lateralization of these two attentional processes.

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.

Spatial Recognition Memory: Differential Brain Strategic Activation According to Sex

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.

Task-domain and hemisphere-asymmetry effects in cisgender and transmale individuals

Results do not support task-domain effects when intelligence is accounted for; however, they do demonstrate a hemisphere-asymmetry effect in the verbal domain that is moderated by gender identity and not assigned sex.

Laterality entering the next decade – The 25th anniversary of a journal devoted to asymmetries of brain, behaviour and cognition

A bibliometric analysis a quarter of a century after the first release of Laterality shows that the interest in laterality is still growing as indicated by the continuing rise in publication numbers in Laterality and other journals.

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

Beyond frontal alpha: investigating hemispheric asymmetries over the EEG frequency spectrum as a function of sex and handedness

ABSTRACT Frontal alpha EEG asymmetry, an indirect marker of asymmetries in relative frontal brain activity, are widely used in research on lateralization of emotional processing. While most authors



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

Is There a Sex Difference in Human Laterality? IV. An Exhaustive Survey of Dual-Task Interference Studies From Six Neuropsychology Journals

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.

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.

Sex differences in the functional organization of the brain for language

The data provide clear evidence for a sex difference in the functional organization of the brain for language and indicate that these variations exist at the level of phonological processing.