Sex differences in human brain asymmetry: a critical survey

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (2):215-227 (1980)
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Dual functional brain asymmetry refers to the notion that in most individuals the left cerebral hemisphere is specialized for language functions, whereas the right cerebral hemisphere is more important than the left for the perception, construction, and recall of stimuli that are difficult to verbalize. In the last twenty years there have been scattered reports of sex differences in degree of hemispheric specialization. This review provides a critical framework within which two related topics are discussed: Do meaningful sex differences in verbal or spatial cerebral lateralization exist? and, if so, Is the brain of one sex more symmetrically organized than the other? Data gathered on right-handed adults are examined from clinical studies of patients with unilateral brain lesions; from dichotic listening, tachistoscopic, and sensorimotor studies of functional asymmetries in non-brain-damaged subjects; from anatomical and electrophysiological investigations, as well as from the developmental literature. Retrospective and descriptive findings predominate over prospective and experimental methodologies. Nevertheless, there is an impressive accummulation of evidence suggesting that the male brain may be more asymmetrically organized than the female brain, both for verbal and nonverbal functions. These trends are rarely found in childhood but are often significant in the mature organism.



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References found in this work

Sex differences in cognition.Hugh Fairweather - 1976 - Cognition 4 (3):231-280.
Hemispheric differences in serial versus parallel processing.Gillian Cohen - 1973 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 97 (3):349.
Word recognition as a function of retinal locus.Mortimer Mishkin & Donald G. Forgays - 1952 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 43 (1):43.
Errors in recognition learning and retention.Benton J. Underwood & Joel S. Freund - 1968 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 78 (1):55.

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