Since the introduction of brain mapping, evidences of functional gender differences have been corroborating previous behavioral and neuropsychological results showing a sex-specific brain organization. We investigated gender differences in brain activation during the performance of the Tower of London (TOL) task which is a standardized test to assess executive functions. Eighteen healthy subjects (9 females and 9 males) underwent fMRI scanning while solving a series of TOL problems with different levels of difficulty. Data were analyzed by modeling both genders and difficulty task load. Task-elicited brain activations comprised a bilateral fronto-parietal network, common to both genders; within this network, females activated more than males in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and right parietal cortex, whereas males showed higher activity in precuneus. A prominent parietal activity was found at low level of difficulty while, with heavier task demand, several frontal regions and subcortical structures were recruited. Our results suggest peculiar gender strategies, with males relying more on visuospatial abilities and females on executive processing. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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