Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male And Female Brain Patterns Differ During Reaching

Date:
April 14, 2007
Source:
York University
Summary:
Men's and women's brains "fire" differently when they are planning how to reach for something, so rehabilitation after brain injuries such as strokes may need to be tailored to the sex of the person, says a new study. Researchers found differences in patterns of brain activity in men and women preparing to do visually-guided actions related to tasks such as using a computer mouse or driving a car.

Men’s and women’s brains “fire” differently when they are planning how to reach for something, so rehabilitation after brain injuries such as strokes may need to be tailored to the sex of the person, says a new study by York University researchers.

Related Articles


Associate professor Lauren Sergio and recent PhD graduate Diana Gorbet, of the Faculty of Health’s School of Kinesiology, found differences in patterns of brain activity in men and women preparing to do visually-guided actions related to tasks such as using a computer mouse or driving a car. Their findings were published online recently by the European Journal of Neuroscience.

“We found that in females there were three major brain areas involved in visually-guided movement and they showed activity on both sides of the brain in most of the exercises in the study,” says Sergio. “In contrast, male brains lit up on both sides only for the most complex exercise.”

Research about the differences in male and female brains is not new. However, the eye-hand coordination research by Sergio and Gorbet looks at what is happening in the brain when what the visual system is seeing is dissociated from what the hand is doing. A classic example of this is when someone is looking at a computer screen but moving a mouse that is off to the side.

Each participant in the study was put into an fMRI machine so his or her brain activity could be monitored, and was given a series of increasingly-complex tasks. The study monitored brain activity just up to the moment when movement started but no further, because any movement made in the fMRI – for example, reaching for a target shown on a computer screen – would have made it difficult to get a clear picture of brain activity.

The differences between the sexes were so clear that Gorbet first noticed them while doing an earlier study that was not designed to separate out male and female results, said Sergio.

“In the type of eye-hand coordination research we do, we know there are differences between males and females when it comes to visual spatial processing – how you mentally rotate an object,” she said. “But nobody has ever looked at action, at real-world relevant type of movement, which is what we’re doing. We’re studying eye-hand coordination when what the visual system is seeing is dissociated from what the hand is doing.”

Typically, when a person uses his or her right hand to do something, an area or areas on the left side of the brain show activity. However, Sergio and Gorbet observed that in females, areas in both sides of the brain were lighting up during these eye-hand coordination experiments. That occurred in men only when they were planning their most complex task, in an experiment in which the joystick was adjusted to move the cursor in the opposite direction to the one expected.

“There’s a lot of literature about how males and females differ in performance. But in all of these exercises, what they saw was exactly the same, what they did was exactly the same, so the difference occurred in the processing in between what they saw and what they did,” said Sergio.

The research findings suggest that if someone has a stroke on one side of the brain, in one of the areas that differs between males and females, it may be important to take into account the sex of the patient.

“If the stroke is only on one side of the brain, a woman may have rehabilitation options that the man may have more trouble with,” said Sergio, “because the woman may be able to perform tasks using the other side of her brain, which is used to being fired up. We also need to recognize that men may have more trouble with rehabilitation, and may need to be checked more carefully before they resume everyday activities such as driving.”


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

York University. "Male And Female Brain Patterns Differ During Reaching." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413212142.htm>.
York University. (2007, April 14). Male And Female Brain Patterns Differ During Reaching. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413212142.htm
York University. "Male And Female Brain Patterns Differ During Reaching." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070413212142.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. 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