Men have better direction sense than women, study says

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

A new study conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology suggests that men have a better sense of direction than women, Fox News reports.

"Men's sense of direction was more effective," said Carl Pintzka, a medical doctor and doctoral candidate at the university's Department of Neuroscience, in a press release.

"They quite simply got to their destination faster.

For the study, the researchers administered testosterone to women and tested how they performed in "wayfinding tasks" in a virtual environment. With the help of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers concluded that the men in the study took shortcuts, used cardinal directions to orient themselves and also used a different part of the brain than the women.

Pintzka also used an MRI scanner to study any differences in brain activity when men and women orient themselves.

The study showed that men solved 50 percent more of the tasks than the women, and also employed different navigational strategies than women.

"If they're going to the Student Society building in [the Norwegian city of] Trondheim, for example, men usually go in the general direction where it's located," he said. "Women usually orient themselves along a route to get there, for example, 'go past the hairdresser and then up the street and turn right after the store'."

The study also showed that when women got a drop of testosterone under their tongue, several of them were able to orient themselves better in the four cardinal directions.

"In ancient times, men were hunters and women were gatherers," said Pintzka. "Therefore, our brains probably evolved differently. For instance, other researchers have documented that women are better at finding objects locally than men. In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house."

The experts noted that since losing one's sense of direction is one of the first symptoms in Alzheimer's disease, the research would help scientists understand the  development of Alzheimer's.

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