25.04.2016

Men and women see things differently

Men and women see things differently

The age-old conflict between how men and women see certain situations has been ongoing for thousands of years, but now it seems there could be some substance behind the concept.


Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Biology of Sex Differences has found that the visual centres of men and women's brains work in different ways.

Researchers from Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges of the City University of New York compared the vision of men and women over the age of 16, with each volunteer required to have normal colour vision and 20/20 sight when corrected with contact lenses or glasses.

They found that in this cross-section of people, men had a greater sensitivity to fine detail and rapidly moving stimuli, while women discriminated better between colours.

An image of light and dark bars was used to measure contrast-sensitivity functions (CSF) of vision, with the light and dark bars alternated to make the image appear to flicker.

By varying how rapidly the bars alternated or how close together they were, the team found that at moderate rates of image change, observers lost sensitivity for close together bars, and gained sensitivity when the bars were farther apart, but men were better able to resolve more rapidly changing images that were closer together than the women.

When volunteers were asked to describe the colours they were seeing, it became obvious that men required a slightly longer wavelength to experience the same shade that women were seeing.

The differences in what each sex sees are down to the concentration of androgen receptors in the cerebral cortex, particularly in the visual cortex which is responsible for processing images.

Androgens are also responsible for controlling the development of neurons in the visual cortex during embryogenesis, meaning that males have 25% more of these neurons than females.

Prof Israel Abramov, who led this study, said that there are "marked differences" in vision between men and women, as is also the case with other senses.

"The elements of vision we measured are determined by inputs from specific sets of thalamic neurons into the primary visual cortex. We suggest that, since these neurons are guided by the cortex during embryogenesis, that testosterone plays a major role, somehow leading to different connectivity between males and females. The evolutionary driving force between these differences is less clear," he explained.ADNFCR-1853-ID-801442295-ADNFCR


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