Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Explains Spatial Orientation Differences Between Sexes; Inner Ear Size May Be Determinant

Date:
August 5, 2004
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
A University of Toronto researcher has found that differences between men and women in determining spatial orientation may be the result of inner ear size.

A University of Toronto researcher has found that differences between men and women in determining spatial orientation may be the result of inner ear size.

Related Articles


The study, published online in the journal Perception, examined whether differences in how men and women judge how we orient ourselves in our environment could be attributed to physiological or psychological causes. It found that giving the participants verbal instructions on how to determine their spatial orientation did not eliminate the differences between the sexes.

"Since the instructions didn't remove the difference between how men and women judge spatial orientation, we believe it is likely a result of physiological differences," says Luc Tremblay, a professor in U of T's Faculty of Physical Education and Health. For example, says Tremblay, the otoliths – structures found in the inner ear which are sensitive to inertial forces such as gravity – tend to be larger in men than in women, and may allow males to adjust themselves more accurately than females in some environments.

In the study, Tremblay asked 24 people (11 males and 13 females) to point a laser straight-ahead (perpendicular to the body orientation) while upright and when tilted 45 degrees backward. To test whether cognitive processes affected spatial orientation, participants – who were tested in the dark – were told to focus on external or internal cues to help them orient the laser. He found that although instructions to pay attention to internal cues helped women to point the laser significantly closer to their straight-ahead, there were still significant differences between the sexes, with women tending to look more towards their feet.

However, although women are more likely than males to misjudge what is horizontal when performing tasks in sensory-deprived or biased environments, they may have an advantage over men while performing tasks under other sensory conditions, such as driving a car or piloting a plane, says Tremblay.

This could mean that women are better than males in avoiding the worst-case scenario in spatial orientation, as women act more cautiously due to the way they interpret the sensory input, while men tend to take risks. An example, says Tremblay, is piloting a plane in a situation where visual cues have been lost. "Because women tend to judge their horizontal a few degrees below what it actually is, they tend to pull up to compensate, thus directing the plane away from the ground."

Tremblay says his finding has good potential for practical applications such as designing gender-specific training for extreme situations such as piloting and space flight. "It's important to identify how men and women differ with respect to complex perceptual-motor behaviour in order to design recreational, rehabilitation and work environments that ensure safety and top performance."

This study was published online on March 19, 2004. The research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, a Canada Research Chair awarded to Digby Elliott, one of the paper's co-authors, and a scholarship from Les Fonds pour la Formation des Chercheurs et l'Aide ΰ la Recherche du Quιbec awarded to Tremblay.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Study Explains Spatial Orientation Differences Between Sexes; Inner Ear Size May Be Determinant." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805091122.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2004, August 5). Study Explains Spatial Orientation Differences Between Sexes; Inner Ear Size May Be Determinant. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805091122.htm
University Of Toronto. "Study Explains Spatial Orientation Differences Between Sexes; Inner Ear Size May Be Determinant." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/08/040805091122.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) — While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) — European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) — According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) — Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins