Using a connectivity model and fMRI imaging, researchers at Cinncinati Childrens Hospital found that intelligent girls and boys use different brain pathways to processing and understand verbal information.
When students were matched by IQ and performances on a verbal comprehension task, researchers found that girls relied more on their left superior temporal gyrus connection to left hemispheric language areas, while boys needed their right superior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus to connect to left hemispheric language areas.
So boys and girls need to pass through different neurobiological hurdles to reach the same level of intellectual proficiency(at least in narrative comprehension)...what might that mean for different teaching strategies? One wonders whether right hemispheric language approaches for boys (e.g. analogy, word associations, voice, imagery, inductive learning) and left hemispheric languages for girls (direct semantic learning, deductive learning)might be a better way to help more students reach a high level of language mastery.
Studies such as this may also provide insight into gender patterns of achievement in subject areas such as language arts or mathematics, as well as pointing out effective ways to provide differentiated education. For example, the authors noted that "...intelligent boys will need to rely more on functional connectivity of the left inferior frontal gyrus with Wernicke’s area and the posterior superior temporal gyrus. Syntactic representations will need to be held in working memory for a longer period of time in order to accomplish the transition between phonological and semantic representations." Perhaps more effort toward reducing the working memory demands of auditory teaching (e.g. detailed handouts) could improve the retention and achievement of more male students.
BTW, just found out about the boon from the NIH's passage of the Public Access Policy. Since this Spring, all NIH-funded research must deposit their papers into PubMed Centralwithin a year of publication. It's about time. Taxpayers have been funding this research, shouldn't they be able to learn from it? More fodder for blogs...
Sex Differences Underlying Intelligence
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Boys, Girls, Different Brains, and Longer Times to Process
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Searching for the Right Word in the Right Hemisphere