Sex-sensitive tasks in men and women: a search for performance fluctuations across the menstrual cycle

Behav Neurosci. 1998 Dec;112(6):1304-17. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.112.6.1304.


This study validated 6 cognitive and motor-skill tasks as sex-sensitive and used them to investigate whether women's performance changed across the menstrual cycle. Three putative female-advantage tasks and 3 putative male-advantage tasks were administered twice, at 6-week intervals, to young college women and men. Counterbalanced for order, women received the tests once during menstruation and once during the midluteal phase. The midluteal phase was determined by projection from day of ovulation, as verified by ovulation detection kits, and by confirmation of subsequent menstruation. Results revealed a significant sex difference for 5 of the 6 tasks. However, there was no evidence that performances differed with menstrual cycle phase. These results from younger women, combined with previous results from older women, may help establish the boundaries for hormonal influences on cognitive and motor-skill behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors