Temporal lobe activation demonstrates sex-based differences during passive listening

M. D. Phillips, M. J. Lowe, J. T. Lurito, M. Dzemidzic, V. P. Mathews

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PURPOSE: To evaluate potential sex differences in temporal lobe activation during the performance of a functional magnetic resonance (MR) imaging passive-listening paradigm. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty strongly right-handed volunteers (10 men, 10 women) underwent imaging with a 1.5-T machine by using a gradient-echo echo-planar sequence. The task consisted of passive listening to simple narrative text interleaved with same-narrative text played backward. Volumes of interest were drawn around anterior and posterior areas of activation in bilateral temporal lobes. The peak percentage of activation and the percentage of activated voxels at single-voxel significance levels of 10-2, 10-3, and 10-4 within each volume of interest were measured. An asymmetry index A was then calculated for both anterior and posterior volumes of interest such that A = (L - R)/(L + R), where R is either the peak percentage activation or the percentage of activated voxels within the right volume of interest and L is either the peak percentage activation or the percentage of activated voxels within the left volume of interest. The asymmetry indexes were compared between men and women by using a standard t test. RESULTS: Men showed a significantly higher degree of asymmetric activation than did women in both the anterior and posterior volumes of interest by using peak percentage activation and at all single-voxel significance levels. The degree of activation asymmetry was greater by using single-voxel significance measurements, compared with peak percentage activation measures. CONCLUSION: Women demonstrate a higher degree of bilateral language representation in temporal lobe regions than do men during passive listening. These findings, combined with the variable results of prior functional MR imaging language studies of sex differences, suggest that they may be task specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-207
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Brain, function
  • Magnetic resonance (MR), echo planar, 134.121412, 134.121419
  • Magnetic resonance (MR), functional imaging, 134.121412, 134.121419

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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