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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 22 (2010), Issue 3-4, Pages 81-90

Different Views about the Nature of Gender-Related Asymmetries in Tasks Based on Biological or Artefact Categories

Guido Gainotti,1 Francesca Ciaraffa,1 Maria Caterina Silveri,2 and Camillo Marra1

1Center for Neuropsychological Research of the Policlinico Gemelli/ Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy
2CEMI, Policlinico Gemelli/ Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Received 24 June 2010; Accepted 24 June 2010

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Sex-related asymmetries in the ability to process different semantic categories have been reported both in normal subjects and in brain-damaged patients, but the nature of these asymmetries is still controversial. Some authors suggest that these differences might be due to social-role related familiarity factors, whereas others attribute them to inborn neural differences rooted in evolution. Drawing in part on this second line of thought, some authors have suggested that gender-related asymmetries might be due to differences in stimulus processing between men and women, namely, to the tendency of females to focus mainly on perceptual features and of males to focus equally on both perceptual and functional features. To test this hypothesis, we asked 53 male and 65 female undergraduate students to evaluate the relevance of a number of perceptual and functional features in the representation of various kinds of biological and artefact categories. Contrary to the hypothesis, evaluation of the weight of different sources of knowledge in representing living and artefact categories was similar in males and females.