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Brain Cogn. 2006 Feb;60(1):32-42. Epub 2005 Nov 3.

Behavioral and physiological findings of gender differences in global-local visual processing.

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University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatry Section, 10 Gates Building, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Hemispheric asymmetries in global-local visual processing are well-established, as are gender differences in cognition. Although hemispheric asymmetry presumably underlies gender differences in cognition, the literature on gender differences in global-local processing is sparse. We employed event related brain potential (ERP) recordings during performance of a global-local reaction time task to compare hemispheric asymmetries and processing biases in adult men (n=15) and women (n=15). Women responded more quickly to local targets while men did not differentially respond to hierarchical stimuli. ERP data indicated that women had P100 responses that were selectively lateralized to the left hemisphere in response to local targets and N150 responses that were smaller for global targets. They also had P300 responses that were greater following local stimuli. The physiological data demonstrate that male-female performance differences arise from biologically based differences in hemispheric asymmetry. Findings are discussed in the context of existing literature regarding gender differences, hemispheric specialization, and the role of stimulus characteristics.

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