MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Is there a relationship between brain dominance and gender?

Date: Mon Sep 27 21:23:11 1999
Posted By: Phyllis Pugh, Post-doc/Fellow, Neurobiology, Medical College of Ohio
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 937580978.Ns

Hi Marcie,

Your question about brain dominance and gender is on the forefront of one of the major controversies in neuroscience today. I decided that I would take a trip to Medline at PubMed to see what I could find out.

I think that to extend your first set of findings, you might want to look at information about the part of the brain that is involved in information transfer from one side of the brain to the other. That area is called the corpus callosum, and it is reportedly larger in females (which we take to mean that the two sides of the brain are more connected in females, something your result could indicate). One of the ways to test that would be to test the reaction speed where a stimulus has to cross the brain versus when it does not. For instance, when a person is tapped on the foot, he or she has to stop a stopwatch held in his/her "dominant" hand (note that you will want people always doing it in hand they feel comfortable with, but you will also want to keep track, in case there is something to being right- or left-handed). You would tap on the same (ipsilateral) side and on the opposite (contralateral) side and compare the person's reaction time to the stimulus. In fact, experiments like this have been done, so I would suggest you read up on some of them for further ideas.

If you are near a university, I suggest you read the following article:

Potter SM, Graves RE
Is interhemispheric transfer related to handedness and gender?
Neuropsychologia 1988;26(2):319-25
Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Interhemispheric transfer was assessed by five motor, tactile and visual tasks which required the 48 subjects to compare stimuli presented simultaneously on both sides of the body midline. Non-right-handers performed significantly better than consistent right-handers on one motor and one tactile task. Females out-performed males on the visual task and on one tactile task. Better interhemispheric transfer performance by non-right-handers and by females may be related to the reportedly larger corpus callosum regions in these groups and also to the reportedly less strong lateralization of function.
PMID: 3399047, UI: 88288624
Which I found at PubMed ( 3399047&form=6&db=m&Dopt=b) by searching for: vision callosum transfer human . You can order the article if you can't get to a university to look at it. Since these authors have done some studies, you should be able to design similar ones. Another suggestion is to search by the authors' names and see if they have published anything else on the topic.

Good luck with your project.

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