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Percept Mot Skills. 1997 Dec;85(3 Pt 2):1243-51.

Sex differences in phonetic processing: speed of identification of alphabetical sequences.

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  • Department of Psychology, Western Illinois University, Macomb 61455, USA. RAY_MAJERES@CCMAIL.WIU


Research on the sex difference in speed of matching strings of letters or digits has suggested that the difference is associated with the speed of the comparison and decision processes rather than with symbol recognition. In addition, the size of the difference is affected by whether the code used for the comparisons is figural or verbal. Given recent evidence on both the critical role of phonological processing in reading and sex differences in the lateralization of phonological processes in the brain, it was hypothesized that on a speeded task with high demands for phonological efficiency sex differences might be found even though no perceptual comparisons were required. In a study with 57 male and 60 female college students, the women were significantly faster in identifying alphabetical sequences and were more accurate than men. There were no significant sex differences on a perceptual matching condition. The results suggest that the verbal processes implicated in earlier work on sex differences in speed of symbol matching may be primarily due to sex differences in the efficiency of phonological processing.

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