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Remembering our origin: Gender differences in spatial memory are reflected in gender differences in hippocampal lateralization
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiology, Oncology and Radiation Science, Radiology.
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2013 (English)In: Behavioural Brain Research, ISSN 0166-4328, E-ISSN 1872-7549, Vol. 256, 219-228 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Gender differences in spatial memory favoring men are frequently reported, and the involvement of the hippocampus in these functions is well-established. However, little is known of whether this behavioral gender difference is mirrored in a gender difference in hippocampal function. Here we assessed hippocampal activity, using functional MRI, while 24 men and women moved through three-dimensional virtual mazes (navigation phase) of varying length, and at the end-point estimated the direction of the starting-point (pointing phase). Men were indeed more accurate than women at estimating direction, and this was especially true in longer mazes. Both genders activated the posterior hippocampus throughout the whole task. During the navigation phase, men showed a larger activation in the right hippocampus than women, while in the pointing phase, women showed a larger activation in the left hippocampus than men. Right-lateralized activation during the navigation phase was associated with greater task performance, and may reflect a spatial strategy that is beneficial in this task. Left-sided activation during the pointing phase might reflect a less efficient post hoc verbal recapitulation of the route. This study is the first to identify neural correlates of the commonly observed male advantage in recalling one's original position, and points to hippocampal lateralization as a possible explanation for this behavioral gender difference.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 256, 219-228 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-207612DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2013.07.050ISI: 000328094100027PubMedID: 23938766OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-207612DiVA: diva2:648880
Available from: 2013-09-17 Created: 2013-09-17 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Making Head or Tail of the Hippocampus: A Long-Axis Account of Episodic and Spatial Memory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making Head or Tail of the Hippocampus: A Long-Axis Account of Episodic and Spatial Memory
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

While episodic and spatial memory both depend on the hippocampus, opposite gender differences in these functions suggest they are partly separate, with different neural underpinnings. The anterior and posterior hippocampus differ  in structure and whole-brain connectivity, and studies point to the posterior hippocampus being more involved in spatial memory while the anterior hippocampus’ role in episodic memory is less clear. This thesis aims to explore the role of the anterior and posterior hippocampus, and associated brain regions, in episodic and spatial memory. Paper I studied gender differences in hippocampal activation underlying differences in spatial memory performance. Better performance in men was accompanied by greater right-lateralization of hippocampal activation compared to women. Paper II investigated regions of gray matter that covaried in volume with the anterior and posterior hippocampus, and whether these covariance patterns depended on gender and were related to behavior. The anterior and posterior hippocampus showed different patterns of covariance, with the anterior hippocampus covariance pattern observed in women and the posterior hippocampus covariance pattern primarily in men. Paper III considered whether the location of hippocampal recruitment in episodic memory depends on memory content. Verbal stimuli were associated with more anterior, and left-lateralized, encoding activations than pictorial stimuli, which in turn were associated with more posterior and bilateral encoding activations. This was not observed during retrieval. Paper IV investigated whether resting-state connectivity associated with the anterior and posterior hippocampus predicts episodic and spatial memory performance, respectively. Resting-state connectivity associated with the anterior, not posterior, hippocampus predicted episodic memory performance, while resting-state connectivity associated with the posterior, not anterior, hippocampus predicted spatial memory performance. This thesis lends further support to differences in function and structure between the anterior and posterior hippocampus suggesting that these two sub–segments play different roles in episodic and spatial memory. Further, it suggests that gender differences in anterior and posterior hippocampus function underlies gender differences in episodic and spatial memory, respectively. Considering the anterior and posterior hippocampus, as well as men and women, separately, is hence important when studying the effect of age and pathology on the hippocampus and associated memory functions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 81 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 114
Keyword
hippocampus, fMRI, episodic memory, spatial memory, gender differences
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology) Neurosciences
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-261340 (URN)978-91-554-9328-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-23, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
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Available from: 2015-09-28 Created: 2015-09-01 Last updated: 2015-10-01

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Persson, JonasEngman, JonasMorell, ArvidWikström, JohanSöderlund, Hedvig

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