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 Are we lost? Why women are worse at reading maps but can find those misplaced keys

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PostSubject: Are we lost? Why women are worse at reading maps but can find those misplaced keys   Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:11 pm

Are we lost? Why women are worse at reading maps but can find those misplaced keys

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 10:06 AM on 24th February 2009


Women are worse at reading maps but better at finding lost items, research into how the sexes perceive beauty has revealed.

U.S Scientists asked 10 men and 10 women to view a series of unfamiliar pictures. The participants were told to give their impressions of the images and whether or not they found them beautiful.

The scientists also used a technique called magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure changes in the magnetic fields generated by active neurons in the brain.


Are we lost? Women tend to describe directions as 'right of' and 'left of' landmarks, while men are better at reading maps, a study found

They discovered that a brain region called the parietal lobe, which governs spatial awareness, is active in both men and women when they admire a 'beautiful' picture or photograph.

But while neurons on both sides of the brain were stimulated in women, only those in the right hemisphere were activated in men.

The left side of the brain used by women is more involved in 'categorical' spatial awareness - assessing the position of objects in categories such as 'above' or 'below', 'left' or 'right'.

This makes women more aware of objects around them even if they are irrelevant to the task at hand, and could explain why they are more likely to find those lost door keys.


Men use 'co-ordinate' spatial awareness while women use 'categorical' spatial awareness thanks to the evolution of early humans

Men meanwhile appear to focus on 'co-ordinate' spatial awareness, centred in the right side of the brain. This involves a more precise form of mental mapping using co-ordinates to fix an object's position in space, like those used on a Ordnance Survey.

The scientists, led by Dr Francisco Ayala from the University of California Irvine, said the difference probably arose early in the evolution of early modern humans.

Hunting, traditionally done by men, required a 'co-ordinating' ability to track animals accurately while on the move.

However, a 'categorical' spatial awareness was better suited to foraging for fruit, roots or berries, a job mainly carried out by women.

'Women tend to be more aware than men of objects around them, including those that seem irrelevant to the current task, whereas men out-perform women in navigation tasks,' the scientists wrote.

'Men tend to solve navigation tasks by using orientation-based strategies involving distance concepts and cardinal directions, whereas women tend to base their activities on remembering the location of landmarks and relative directions, such as 'left from', or 'to the right of".'

The research was reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1153842/Are-lost-Why-women-worse-reading-maps-misplaced-keys.html
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