My way, or the doorway?

A German study that compared male and  female brain activity during navigation has found that men and women use different regions of the brain for the process.  Dr. Matthias W. Riepe and his colleagues at the University of Ulm in Germany had 24 subjects navigate through three computerized mazes.

They mapped brain activity during the exercise using magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI), and produced some very interesting results. The men got out of the mazes in an average 2 minutes and 22 seconds, compared with 3
minutes and 16 seconds for the women.

The MRI scans showed equal activity in several brain regions for both men and women, but there were also some profound differences. Men had more activity in the left hippocampus, a part of the brain that scientists think is used for spatial tasks. The women showed activity in a different area that is linked with using visual clues.

We knew this all along. Women use landmarks (and ask directions) to navigate, while men use landmarks and spatial clues which include a broader view of their surroundings.

Whatever your navigation method, don’t bug the driver. Another study has just shown a strong link tween stress and memory. Subjects who were given a dose of cortisol (the body’s natural “stress” hormone) performed
worse on memory tests than those given a placebo. The lesson? Whether you’re male or female, harassing someone about their poor navigation skills will probably just get you really lost.