Developmental sex differences in verbal learning

Neuropsychology. 1997 Oct;11(4):577-84. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.11.4.577.


Although sex differences in verbal learning and memory have been reported in adults, much less is known about when these sex differences emerge and how they develop. In this study, 401 boys and 410 girls between the ages of 5 and 16 years were administered the California Verbal Learning Test--Children's Version. Sex differences were found at all age levels. Girls performed better than boys on all of the immediate and delayed recall trials and on the delayed recognition trial. Girls were also more likely than boys to use a semantic clustering strategy and displayed more effective long-term memory mechanisms. Boys made more intrusion errors and displayed greater vulnerability to interference between the 2 test lists. Because boys had higher mean scores on Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children--Revised Vocabulary, the observed female superiority in verbal learning could not be attributed to sex differences in overall word knowledge.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Racial Groups
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*
  • Vocabulary