Gender differences in working memory networks: a BrainMap meta-analysis

Biol Psychol. 2014 Oct;102:18-29. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.06.008. Epub 2014 Jul 18.

Abstract

Gender differences in psychological processes have been of great interest in a variety of fields. While the majority of research in this area has focused on specific differences in relation to test performance, this study sought to determine the underlying neurofunctional differences observed during working memory, a pivotal cognitive process shown to be predictive of academic achievement and intelligence. Using the BrainMap database, we performed a meta-analysis and applied activation likelihood estimation to our search set. Our results demonstrate consistent working memory networks across genders, but also provide evidence for gender-specific networks whereby females consistently activate more limbic (e.g., amygdala and hippocampus) and prefrontal structures (e.g., right inferior frontal gyrus), and males activate a distributed network inclusive of more parietal regions. These data provide a framework for future investigations using functional or effective connectivity methods to elucidate the underpinnings of gender differences in neural network recruitment during working memory tasks.

Keywords: BrainMap; Gender differences; Sex differences; Working memory; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Factors*