Monday, January 12, 2009

Boys Think in Pictures, Girls Think in Words

Here's an interesting study looking at the different ways boys and girls process language. At almost every age, girls trump the boys in terms of language performance, but the surprising finding in this study was that strong performances were activated by different brain regions depending on gender. The implications? -boys and girls are wired to learn language differently.

Among the strong language performers who were girls, fMRI activations were highest in "conventional" language areas such as the left inferior frontal gyrus or left middle temporal gyrus. Among the strong language performers who were boys, however, the highest brain activation areas were visual association and imagery areas if words were presented visually or sound association (phonology) areas if the words were presented aurally.

Excerpt: "The pattern of accuracy correlations suggests that girls’ linguistic
judgments depended on information available to the language network regardless of the
modality of word presentation, whereas accurate performance for boys depended on the
modality of word presentation rather than the linguistic judgment required. These dramatic sex differences in the pattern of brain-behavior correlations reflect fundamental differences in the nature of processing required for accurate performance."

Whereas girls are processing words within the brain's language networks, boys' processing is more associational and link tied to the mode in which words are presented (e.g. by sight vs. sound).

The boys data is particularly interesting for the dyslexic boys we see. We've noticed that they are able to better remember sight spelling words like through if they are pictured with a doodle that reinforces the unusual part of spelling as well as its meaning.

Other interesting boys, girls learning posts:
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Visual Learning
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Slower developmental processing speed for boys

If you would like our Visual Spelling Card Homonyms printed on business card stock, they are available for $7.95 with free shipping:

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