A study carried out by researchers Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim has provided an explanation as to why men have a better sense of direction than women.
In attempt to shed light on the age-old myth involving the battle of sexes, the researchers administered testosterone to 42 men and women and monitored their neural activity using a way-finding task.
Their findings suggests that men performed better than women in navigational task. Although it was found that the testosterone altered the neural activity of the participants, the results didn’t show whether testosterone improves an individual’s sense of direction.
The researchers believe that complex behaviours like navigation rely on learned strategies. Historically, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Such situations have driven human brains to probably evolve differently.
Still, other researchers have shown that women are better are finding objects locally than men.
Carl Pintzka, the lead author of the study explained: “In simple terms, women are faster at finding things in the house, and men are faster at finding the house.”
Moreover, fMRI scans showed that male participants had greater activity in the hippocampus while performing the tasks. Meanwhile, female participants mainly used their frontal lobes. Females, when administered with testosterone, used their hippocampus to a greater extent.
Previous studies claimed that men have a bigger hippocampus than women.
Scientists Predict Navigational Skills Based on Brain Scan
Humans do possess an internal compass that tells us the direction to take to reach our final destination.
Researchers from the University College London have discovered that the entorhinal complex region in the brain is responsible for a person’s sense of direction.
Using an MRI machine that measures nerve activity inside the head, the researchers found that the entorhinal region became more active than other brain regions during a navigational task.
“We were surprised to see that the strength and consistency of brain signals from the entorhinal region noticeably influenced people’s performance in such a basic task,” Dr. Hugo Spiers explained.