Males Are Better At Sensing Direction Than Females

Posted: Dec 7 2015, 8:11am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Males are Better at Sensing Direction than Females
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  • Men have better sense of direction than women

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Experiments have demonstrated that males are better at sensing direction than females.

There is sex typing according to the fine art of telling directions. Men have been known to perform better at spatial tasks. But the question is whether it is due to cultural factors or sex hormones. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) decided to explore this idea.

To test this hypothesis, women were administered shots of testosterone, the male hormone, and then observed as to how well they found their way in a task. By using MRI, it was discovered that the males took more shortcuts, employed cardinal directions and used different parts of their brain than females.

When females were given a drop or two of testosterone under their tongues, they performed better in the four cardinal directions. As for the males, their sense of direction was much more focused. They got to their destinations faster and also made less mistakes along the way. Thus although the differences are subtle, they are there. And they show that males and females are different in their abilities at finding ways in a virtual environment.

"Men's sense of direction was more effective. They quite simply got to their destination faster," says Carl Pintzka, a medical doctor and PhD candidate at NTNU's Department of Neuroscience. The directional sense findings are part of his doctoral thesis on how the brain functions differently in men and women.

Take finding solutions to a puzzle in a 3D maze. The males and females used 3D goggles and a joystick. The results were obvious. The males solved over 50% more tasks than the females.

The sexes have different ways of finding directions. Women follow routes whereas men use a general sense of direction. This is the basic underlying difference between the two. The use of cardinal directions is an easier and more efficient method since it is flexible in nature.

Men utilize the hippocampus in their brains. Females use the frontal lobes more often. Since it is the hippocampus that is necessary to make use of cardinal directions, the males excel at directions whereas the females are slightly behind them in this regard.

In prehistoric times, males were hunters whereas females were gatherers. The evolution of brains thus underwent a different pathway for each sex. An example will clarify this point. Women are better than men at finding objects in a house.

Men are better than women at finding the house itself. People with alzheimer’s disease shows the first symptom by forgetting their way in a city. But then the brain-related illnesses are different in men and women.

Since twice as many women as men are victims of Alzheimer's, this loss of the sense of direction can be seen in the early stages of the disease. The sex hormones do indeed influence directionality in a powerful way.

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