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Sex differences in brain regions activated by grammatical and reading tasks

Jaeger, Jeri J.1,4; Lockwood, Alan H.2; Van Valin, Robert D. Jr1; Kemmerer, David L.3; Murphy, Brian W.2; Wack, David S.2

Cognitive Neuroscience

DO the brains of men and women show similar patterns of functional organization for language, or are men more strongly lateralized? We used PET to measure cerebral blood flow (CBF) as men and women read real and nonce verbs, and produced past tense forms. While the overall patterns of reaction time, error, and brain activation were similar, there were also significant sex-related differences in CBF patterns. During the past tense generation tasks, men showed left-lateralized activation while women recruited bilateral perisylvian cortex, confirming differences in functional laterality. During all tasks, women showed higher activation in occipital and/or cerebellar regions, suggesting differences in basic reading strategies. We conclude that sex differences in functional cortical organization exist in the absence of significant behavioral differences.

1Department of Linguistics and Center for Cognitive Science, 685 Baldy Hall, SUNY, Buffalo, NY 14260

2Center for Positron Emission Tomography, Veterans Administration Western New York Healthcare System, Buffalo, and Department of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine, and Center for Cognitive Science, SUNY, Buffalo

3Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, IA, USA

4Corresponding Author and Address: Jeri J. Jaeger, 685 Baldy Hall, SUNY, Buffalo, NY 14260

Website publication 12 August 1998

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We thank the following members of the PET team for their input to this research: Paul Galantowicz, Valerie Cronin, MaryLou Coad, Michael Haka, Steven Tooronigan and Erol Bars. This research was supported by a SUNY Buffalo Multidisciplinary Research Grant (J.J.J.), Offices of Research and Development and Health Services Research, Department of Veterans Affairs (A.H.L.), the James H. Cummings Foundation, Inc., Buffalo NY (A.H.L.), and NIH Training Grant NIDCD 00036 (D.L.K).

Received 9 June 1998; accepted 24 June 1998

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.