Gender Comparisons in Cognitive Abilities

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Gender Comparisons in Cognitive Abilities

Gender differences are not only noticeable in physical and reproductive areas as far as men and women are concerned. These physical and reproductive differences are minimal in terms of the determinants of how men and women operate as far as other issues relating to their cognition are concerned (Gur et al. 1999). Sex hormones that are secreted during their development are responsible for the difference in brain organizations of men and women.

Men and women have been shown by several studies to learn differently due to the difference in their cognition. Kimura (2000) postulated that even at infancy, girls gaze at objects longer than boys an argument that gives premise to the fact that boys have attention problems. Their sensory systems show a discrepancy even at such a young age, something that persists into old age. In addition to the above, women tend to remember some things like land marks better than the men who remember directions and distance.

These are the spatial cues that the men are better off in as opposed to women (Kimura 2000). A myriad of other differences have been suggested especially in linguistic, interpersonal, logical and mathematical, musical, intrapersonal and linguistic among other areas. As the environment starts acting on the individual boys and girls after birth, they already have wired brains that show differences in how they respond to the above areas that lead to the differences.

The females and males differences in their intellectual faculties lie in their abilities rather than their Intelligence Quotient, which may be the same in girls and boys, all other factors held constant but the sampled girls and boys will have differences in their linguistic and most probably their spatial abilities. Different areas of the brain are suited for various tasks and which the males and females have differing usage abilities in. Spatial differences

On average, studies have found that male outperform female in spatial activities/ spatial visualizations like in situations that require the rotation of objects in a given space or in manipulation of objects in one way or another or just mental rotation. They are also able to outdo women in tasks which deal with maneuvering of their way through a maze of routes but this does not include grasping of landmarks for use as a means to remember their routes while women are able to recall landmarks more than men can.

In addition to this, men are better off than women in the accuracy with which they target objects either in movement or in their static positions. They also do well in disembedding hidden objects. This extends to interception or guiding of projectiles and ability to realize any movements in the field of vision. This performance cuts across all ages as shown by Kaufman et. al (1999) that used the Weischeler Adult Intelligence Scales-Revised (WAIS-R) in determining fluids and crystallized differences in men and women.

The study states that the ability to target an object develops well before puberty. The performance of men and women on Block Design, Digital Symbol and Information showed that men outperformed women in Block Design and Information while women did better than men in Digital Symbol. Verbal fluency In 2003, Shaywitz et al. were able to discern differences in gender as far as the brain’s language functional organization is concerned. They used a study called the functional resonance imaging and through this, females showed more abilities in verbal fluency than men.

This included their manner of acquisition and longer spans of attention in conversation unlike men who lagged behind. They also tended to excel in memory tasks like fluency in generation of synonyms and better rapidity of identification of matching objects or items because their perception skills are better than those of their male counterparts (Shaywitz, B et al. (1995,). Kimura, 1996). They demonstrate better recall ability linked to verbal fluency than men in addition to having a higher episodic memory.

They also show a greater ability to reckon words that begin with a certain letter more than the men can do. The fields of priming, semantic and primary memories do not however show any difference in men and women. Men on the other hand showed better performance in semantic measures and a higher order in the crystallized factor of intelligence. Due to the bigger cortical space in females assigned for language and its functions, there is less space left for the working of the spatial space which implies that females cannot be better than men in both language and spatial abilities. Problem-Solving Tasks

There are differences in gender as far as the brain’s problem-solving tasks are concerned as reported by Gur et al. (1999) that conducted various studies and presented test to a sample of men and women under same condition. The results were basis for the conclusion drawn. First, arithmetic differences tests showed that men are higher cognitive abilities in terms of mathematics calculations and reasoning than women. In this test, set of mathematical based questions were asked to the selected sample; men responded more accurate and quick than women who displayed slowness and inaccuracy in calculated responses.

In another experiment, a piece of paper was folded with a punched hole, and then the participants were asked to determine where punched hole shall fall if the paper shall be unfolded. Most men responded correctly and quickly in determining where the hole shall fall should the paper be opened than their female counterparts. Moreover, objects and images were placed before the participant and asked to rotate objects and manipulate the images. Men excelled better than women on this problem-solving task.

Lastly, studies show that when men and women are targeting or aiming at an object, men are more likely to get their target than women can. This implies that women are less accurate in target-directed motor skills for example intercepting projectiles. To assert this finding, the practical example that can be used to explain this target-direct motor skill is by essence that men are good at target involving games like dart playing than women. Therefore, problem-solving task favors men than women in the sense that men perform better than women in spatial undertakings like tasks that involve mental rotating objects.

Emotional coping Cognitive abilities of an individual to great extend help in process of coping with stress or depression. The essence that facilitates connection between coping with emotions and cognitive abilities is because through use of intelligence that a person can think, perceive and react to the surrounding. In this regard, intelligence needed to cope with emotions is defined as cognitive ability and content of the thought which differ greatly in men than women (Shaywitz et al. 1999; Gur et al. 1999). The meta-analyses studies conducted found that men are less affected with emotions than women.

For instance, women were found to be affected by maladaptive or negative thinking about an emotional problem than male. Men usually indulge in alcoholism, aggressive behaviors and violent behaviors. While women are worse affected by the emotional since are usually depressed and can develop various eating and psychological disorders like bulimic or anxiety. Differences in precision in manual tasks Women are a bit faster than men in precision as far as some manual tasks like placing pegs in the holes on a given board.

Coupled with their ability to recall the positions of objects more precisely than men, women show a greater likelihood of replacing an object to its initial position with a greater accuracy than men or state whether a given object had been displaced or not. Women therefore show a better fine motor coordination as compared to men The neuroanatomic difference in males and females has been found to contribute to cognitive abilities especially those that are sexual in nature. Females have XX genetic make-up while males have XY.

These genes play a great role in differentiation and it is due to the absence of the Y chromosome in females that leads to the release of androgens which are the male hormones. These hormones cause the female to develop. Some periods when there is the release of sex hormones, there is an impact in the brain which leads to differences in cognition from the periods when there is no hormonal release. Prenatal development period has shown the greatest levels of hormone release according to several researches done (Shaywitz et. al 2003).

During puberty the levels of the hormones do rise again and these fluctuations continue throughout one’s life span. Research has established that girls who were exposed to high testosterone levels were shown to display greater spatial skills when compared with other girls who had not been exposed to the hormone. This shows that the male hormone testosterone is responsible for the spatial abilities that males have. Males show some excellence at problem-solving in school more than females in addition to working out multiple choice tests better than females.

Such examinations like SATs are performed in better by males than females who, apparently do well in written and untimed tests while getting higher overall grades in their schooling years. Girls have also proved to be better performers in math than males up to high school level where they drop, an aspect that has been attributed to the inclusion of m ore spatially oriented math in which the girls appear to be lower in performance than males (Shaywitz, B et al. 1995). Males are known to have a larger brain than females with a size which is 10% larger than that of females.

Some researches have indicated that there is a correlation between the size of the brain and intellectual abilities. The males’ brains have more cerebrospinal and white matter than the brains of females. More white matter according to Gur et. al 2000 (cited in Shaywitz et. al 2003) is responsible for the information transfer to other regions of the brain thus contributing to their superb spatial abilities while the women who have more of the grey matter enhance greater processing capacity and efficiency.

As has been stated earlier on, the brain is laterized such that one hemisphere dominate t6he other in a given or given fuction(s). The brain’s two halves are more laterized in the performance of some cognitive functions. In males, the laterization is more pronounced than in the females due to the neurohumoral interactions mediated by the testosterone hormone. Fourie and Stuart (2006) carried out an investigation on the role of gender and temperament in Functional Hemispheric Asymmetry and perception of emotional stimuli. In this investigation, they used a total population sample of 112 with females being 58 and men 54.

The sample had four groups of students who were right-handed and chosen in terms of their gender, and temperament. Their levels of neuroticism, introversion and extroversion were measured using a personality questionnaire. The Divided Visual Field Technique, their differential hemisphere performance regarding latency and accuracy were determined. After the use of T-square test (Hotelling’s), the results showed that the accuracy in terms of the response time scores in men and women had a great difference in the way the two genders process their emotional stimuli.

Women were found to do so faster and more accurately than their male counterparts in the processing and response to emotional stimuli. There are also some gender differences in maladaptive thinking and coping with stressful situations. The risk of depression in men is 8-12% while in women it has been found to be between 20-26%. Disorders related to depression affect about 70% of women and 30% of men due to the fact that women show uncontrollability in perception more than men (Kaufman, 1999 Voyer, 2005).

Individuals with unilateral brain lesions or damages were studied (Inglis & Lawson 2001) and it was found that males lost their verbal ability more than the females after both genders suffered damages in the left hemispheres. Men also lost their spatial abilities after a brain damage on their right hemispheres. Women were found to be better off than men in verbal ability even after suffering the same damage on either lobe. This justifies the fact that language and spatial abilities are bilaterally represented less in men than in women. Brain organization

The human brain organization is an important part aligning for performing the cognitive tasks. The human brain has two hemispheres which are specialized in carry a specific kind of activity better that the other hemisphere. Brain organization for male is more lateralized to its cognitive functions than women brain. The major difference in lateralization of the brain is the hormonal roles (Shaywitz, et al. 1999). For instance, the testerone hormone facilitates neurohormonal linkage during early stages of cognitive development creating dimorphism in cerebral (Kimura, 1992).

On the other hand, women brain is less lateralized with more of its portion assigned to verbal or language tasks. In electrical activities, men show they use their right hemisphere for spatial activities as opposed to women who use their left hemisphere. Conclusion In conclusion, the paper has discussed with illustrations the major gender cognitive difference between men and women. In the discussion, the paper has Spatial differences, Verbal fluency, Problem-Solving Tasks, Emotional coping, Differences in precision in manual tasks, and Brain organization.

However, a point of worth to note is that there is distinct difference between the female and male cognitive abilities which is influenced by brain structures such as hypothalamus region. Moreover, SDN (sexually dimorphic nucleus) is smaller in women while larger for males. References Gur, RC et al. (1999) “Sex differences in brain; correlations with cognitive performance” Journal of Neuroscience, 29, p. 4042-4059 Kimura, D. (2002). “Sex, sex hormones and sexual orientation influence on human cognitive function” Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16, p. 261-268 Kimura, D. (1998).

Sex differences in the brain, Scientific American, 10, p. 26-31 Kaufman, A et al. (1999), “Intellectual growth pattern and decline across the adult life-span for women and men” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 37, p. 759-802 Shaywitz, B et al. (1995), “Sex differences in the functional organization of the brain for language” Nature, 363, p. 595-610. Shaywitz, S et al. (1999). “Estrogen changes functional organization of brain” Journal of the American Medical Association, 271, p. 1103-11513. Voyer, D. (2005) “A meta- analysis of Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities” Psychological Bulletin, 107, p. 252-273


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 2 October 2016

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