Are sex differences in navigation caused by sexually dimorphic strategies or by differences in the ability to use the strategies?
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When navigating, women typically focus on landmarks within the environment, whereas men tend to focus on the Euclidean properties of the environment. However, it is unclear whether these observed differences in navigational skill result from disparate strategies or disparate ability. To remove this confound, the present study required participants to follow either landmark- or Euclidean-based instructions during a navigation task (either in the real-world or on paper). Men performed best when using Euclidean information, whereas women performed best when using landmark information, suggesting a dimorphic capacity to use these 2 types of spatial information. Further, a significant correlation was observed between the mental rotation task and the ability to use Euclidean information, but not the ability to use landmark information.
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