Sex and Ability Differences in Neural Strategy for Piaget’s Water Level Test: An EEG Study

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To explore brain activation differences between the sexes and between high and low performers on spatial perception performance, 43 college students (20 males and 23 females) performed the Piaget’s Water Level Test (WLT) while their electroencephalogram signals were recorded. A 2 (Sex) × 2 (Group: high performing vs. low performing) × 2 (Hemisphere: left vs. right) × 3 (Region: frontal, parietal, and temporal) mixed analysis of variance on beta power data showed that females more significantly activated the left hemisphere when performing the WLT, suggesting their application of an analytic strategy. In contrast, males showed a bilateral activation pattern, suggesting their use of an analytic- or holistic-combined strategy. Moreover, superior performance on the WLT was associated with enhanced temporal lobe functioning, suggesting that a superior analytic skill is key to successful performance on the WLT. There is likely modulating impact of both cognitive style and specific task properties on spatial perception strategy preferences.

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