Paul Newhouse
Last active: 3/3/2020

Sex differences in visual-spatial learning using a virtual water maze in pre-pubertal children.

Newhouse P, Newhouse C, Astur RS
Behav Brain Res. 2007 183 (1): 1-7

PMID: 17629971 · DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2007.05.011

Gonadal steroid effects during puberty are often hypothesized to account for the male advantage seen in certain spatial tasks. One spatial task where males consistently show better performance than females is the Morris Water Task in which subjects must navigate to a goal location in a pool. We examined whether sex differences exist in pre-pubertal children completing a Virtual Morris Water Task, which has previously shown strong sex differences in adults. Pre-pubertal boys show superior performance to similar-aged girls, as evidenced by shorter latencies to find the platform and stronger preferences for the platform location during a probe trial. These results suggest that sex differences in spatial learning and memory exist prior to puberty and do not appear to require the effects of sex hormones at puberty. Rather, these differences may reflect early-life hormonal effects on hippocampal-dependent processes and may suggest different preferential learning strategies by boys and girls.

MeSH Terms (14)

Child Computer Simulation Female Gonadal Steroid Hormones Humans Male Maze Learning Practice, Psychological Psychomotor Performance Puberty Reaction Time Sex Factors Space Perception Spatial Behavior

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