Sunday, 22 June 2008
The sex differences described by MacCoby and Jacklin have often been described as a “spatial” advantage for males and a “verbal” advantage for females, but more recent research has indicated that this dichotomy is too simple; there is a broader pattern of differences that cannot be labeled easily as verbal and spatial. Thus females excel at both perceptual speed and visual memory, whereas males are better at perceptual closure, the disembedding of visual patterns from complex arrays, map-reading, and target-directed skills such as guiding or intercepting projectiles…males appear to excel at chess and musical composition.In music, women appear to be as competent in performing as men, but fewer excel in composition.It has been suggested that men have an advantage in these fields, as well as in mathematics, because all involve spatial ability.
There is evidence that at least four significant cognitive differences are sex-related:verbal differences, visuospatial differences, differences in mathematical ability and differences in aggression.Although the causes of cognitive sex related differences are unknown, it is likely that they are at least partly biological. Consider the following data. Harshman and his associates, in a very ambitious study of the interaction of sex and handedness in cognitive abilities, report a significant interaction between sex and handedness; that is, sex-related differences in verbal and visuospatial bahavior varied as a function of handedness.It is difficult to imagine how social or environmental factors alone could account for this type of result.It is thus very plausible to account for sex-related differences at least partly by neurological factors that may be modulated by the environment.
[Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology, ch.10 Variations in cerebral asymmetry/ Kolb, Whishaw]