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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Male vs. Female Minds

WASHINGTON -- In the ongoing effort to understand how the minds of men and women differ, researchers have found evidence that the sexes use different parts of their brains when they're trying to navigate in new territory.

Matthias Riepe of the University of Ulm in Germany and his colleagues did brain scans on 12 men and 12 women as they tried to escape from a three-dimensional virtual reality maze on a computer.

It took the men an average of 2 minutes and 22 seconds to escape, while it took the women an average of 3 minutes and 16 seconds, which is consistent with previous research showing that men tend to be better than women in navigating.

Both sexes use some of the same parts of the brain for the task. But men use a part called the right hippocampus, which is a banana-shaped structure deep in the brain known to be critical for navigation, according to a report in the April issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Women, in contrast, use parts called the right parietal and right prefrontal cortex. That's consistent with previous research that showed that women tend to use landmarks to find their way around, while men use geometry.