2 Categories of Spatial Ability Spatial orientation: Measures the ability to judge the spatial position and relationship of stimuli relative to the observer. Ex) map reading Spatial visualization: Measures the ability to manipulate stimuli mentally without distorting the spatial configuration or the stimulus elements. Ex) mental rotation
Mental Rotation Test Measures the ability to rotate a 2D or 3D figure rapidly and accurately. This measure produces the most significant sex differences of any spatial task. Used this measure as a constant.
Spatial Memory Definition: Memory for location of unfamiliar objects. Unfamiliar object are used to control verbal labels. Two types of Spatial Memory Tasks measured Location-Exchange Location-Shift
Location-Exchange Task Measures memory of the original position of objects after the location of pairs of objects were exchanged. Given 1 minute to study the original array of objects then asked to put an X through the objects that have moved. (Example)
Location-Shift Task Measures memory of the original position of objects after the locations of objects were shifted to sites previously unoccupied by another object. Instructions are the same as location- exchange.
Birth Control Factor 50% of the participants were on birth control. Meaning that estrogen stays medium throughout the follicular and luteal phases impairing ovulation. 50% of the participants not on birth control had irregular cycles, meaning that their estrogen levels did not follow the 28 day format so they could not be measured accurately.
Birth Control Solution Women were divided into 2 groups 1. Low estrogen (prementrual and menstrual) 2. High estrogen (follicular and luteal phases)
Method Participants: -Male and female undergraduate students (N=51) -50% of women were on birth control pills
Hypothesis 1 Men will outperform women on mental rotation. Women will perform better when estrogen is low.
Hypothesis 2 Women will outperform men on spatial memory. Women will excel the most when estrogen is high.
Hunter-Gatherer Theory An evolutionary theory that bases its foundation on the idea that men were hunters and women were gatherers in early human history which caused these differences in cognition to evolve.
Hunting and tracking require men to have good spatial orientation and transformation abilities to be able to pursue prey across unfamiliar territory and to set traps in correct locations. Gathering requires good spatial memory abilities in order to locate food sources among vegetation as well as to relocate them the next year.
Estrogen effects on Cognition Estrogen has been found to interfere in spatial transformation tasks such as mental rotation. Estrogen aids verbal memory. -Menopausal women receiving estrogen replacement therapy show enhancement in short and long-term memory.
Estrogen effects on cognition - Men given estrogen supplements also showed improvement in verbal memory compared to those without supplements.
Hypothesis 3 Women will outperform men on verbal emotional memory. Women will score higher when estrogen is high.
Spatial Memory Women outperformed men on the location- shift task but not on the location-exchange task. Women excelled when estrogen was low not high as was predicted. Hypothesis 2 was partially supported.
Verbal Emotional Memory Significant sex differences were not found in verbal emotional memory. The general pattern found was that women were scoring higher was expected. Hypothesis 3 was not supported.
Discussion What to change next time: 1. Use blood tests to measure menstrual phase accurately. 2. Use a repeated measures design which would use the same women at least four different times across their menstrual cycle.