Remembering our origin: Gender differences in spatial memory are reflected in gender differences in hippocampal lateralization
2013 (English)In: Behavioural Brain Research, ISSN 0166-4328, E-ISSN 1872-7549, Vol. 256, 219-228 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Gender differences in spatial memory favoring men are frequently reported, and the involvement of the hippocampus in these functions is well-established. However, little is known of whether this behavioral gender difference is mirrored in a gender difference in hippocampal function. Here we assessed hippocampal activity, using functional MRI, while 24 men and women moved through three-dimensional virtual mazes (navigation phase) of varying length, and at the end-point estimated the direction of the starting-point (pointing phase). Men were indeed more accurate than women at estimating direction, and this was especially true in longer mazes. Both genders activated the posterior hippocampus throughout the whole task. During the navigation phase, men showed a larger activation in the right hippocampus than women, while in the pointing phase, women showed a larger activation in the left hippocampus than men. Right-lateralized activation during the navigation phase was associated with greater task performance, and may reflect a spatial strategy that is beneficial in this task. Left-sided activation during the pointing phase might reflect a less efficient post hoc verbal recapitulation of the route. This study is the first to identify neural correlates of the commonly observed male advantage in recalling one's original position, and points to hippocampal lateralization as a possible explanation for this behavioral gender difference. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013. Vol. 256, 219-228 p.
Hippocampus, Spatial memory, Gender difference, Laterality
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-85308DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.07.050ISI: 000328094100027OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-85308DiVA: diva2:693933
FunderSwedish Research Council, 2009-2035