A voxel-by-voxel parametric fMRI study of motor mental rotation: Hemispheric specialization and gender differences in neural processing efficiency

Peka S. Christova, Scott M. Lewis, Georgios A. Tagaris, Kamil Ugurbil, Apostolos P Georgopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Differences between men and women in brain size, cognitive performance and lateralization of brain activation have been perennial and controversial issues. Here we show that in a motor mental rotation task where women and men performed equally well, the slope of the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal per degree of mental rotation was overall 2.4× higher in men than in women. This was attributed to the much more inefficient engagement (i.e. higher slopes) of the right hemisphere by men (mainly the frontal lobe). These findings indicate that women process information much more efficiently than men, which could offset smaller brain size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-90
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Volume189
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by USPHS grant NS32919, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Legion Brain Sciences Chair.

Keywords

  • Cerebral cortex
  • Gender
  • Mental rotation
  • fMRI

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