Poster E4, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Males and Females use different spatial strategies when navigating a novel tabletop navigation task
Mashal Fida1, Erin L. Zelinski2, Sean G. Lacoursiere1, Robert J. Sutherland1; 1Canadian Centre of Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, 2Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary
Sex differences in spatial abilities have been reported in many mammalian species, including humans. The Morris Water Task (MWT) is an often-used behavioural assay of spatial ability in rodents that has been adapted to use in humans, typically as virtual reality. Such variations have lead some to theorize that males and females implement different strategies to solve spatial problems. On average, men tend to use cardinal directions, whereas women tend to use landmarks to solve these tasks. In our previous studies using the Real-World version of the MWT, we found superior male performance in the allocentric version of the MWT while a clear female advantage was observed in the egocentric version of the task. These findings led us to design allocentric and egocentric tabletop versions of the MWT. We hypothesized that men would excel at the allocentric version where as females would excel in the egocentric version of the task. Sixty subjects (30 women) ages 18-25, were asked to locate a single, hidden target location in the allocentric condition over several trials with varying start locations. Male performance was significantly better than females on this version of the task. A second experiment containing sixty subjects (30 women) ages 18-25, performed the egocentric version of the task. In the egocentric condition, women demonstrated a clear advantage relative to males. Together, these results indicate that although men and women can both solve spatial tasks, the default strategy is allocentric for men and egocentric for women.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial