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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/331

Title: Impact of sex, familial sinistrality, and hormone levels on visuospatial ability and strategy use in right-handers (The)
Authors: D'Andrea, Elizabeth Ann
Keywords: Sex differences (Psychology);Psychology;Spatial behavior
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2004
Abstract: Cognitive sex differences are greatest in spatial areas, with men demonstrating more efficient solution strategies and greater overall performance than women on some tasks. An exception to this pattern has been found in a subgroup of women identified by individual and family handedness (right-handed with at least one left-handed biological relative)--factors that may be linked to genetic influences on brain organization. These women not only exhibit equal ability to men but also appear to use similar strategies. Normal fluctuations in estrogen during the menstrual cycle have also been associated with performance variations within women. Spatial performance may peak at menses, when estrogen is relatively low. Conversely, verbal performance may be best during phases when estrogen is relatively high. The current study examined the effect of sex, family handedness, and hormone (estrogen and testosterone) levels on cognitive performance and strategy use. Although the role of each of these factors was considered independently, the primary focus of this study was to explore possible interactions between them. Fifty subjects, grouped as to sex and family handedness, attended two test sessions. For females, sessions were timed to correspond with the late follicular and menstrual phases of the menstrual cycle. A repeated measures MANOVA was significant for sex F (13,34)= 4.46 (p<.0001), with men outperforming women on mental rotation and finger tapping and women outperforming men on the Grooved Pegboard. A MANOVA conducted on non-repeated measures found a significant effect for family handedness, favoring FS+ women, on the Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure (recall and strategy). No overall main effect for menstrual cycle phase was found for women. However, a significant interaction was found between cycle phase and family handedness, with FS+ women performing better during the menstrual phase of their cycle and FS- women showing better performance at mid-cycle. This tendency was seen across spatial, verbal, and motor measures. These results may offer some insight into why findings regarding menstrual cycle effects have been inconsistent and suggest that it may be important to consider between-subject factors when looking at any possible within-subject effects such as those that may occur over the menstrual cycle.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/331
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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