WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Men are better than women
at determining the location of a sound in a noisy setting, a talent
that may have developed through evolution, researchers say.
They tested the audio-spatial abilities of men and women by
having them listen to sounds and determine the location of the
sound source. At first, the sounds were presented one at a time,
and both men and women had high levels of accuracy.
But the women found the task much more difficult than men when
several sounds were presented simultaneously and the participants
had to pinpoint the source of only one sound. This ability to
detect and concentrate on just one sound in a noisy setting is
known as the "cocktail party phenomenon," the researchers said. In
some cases, the women thought the sounds were coming from the
The study appears in the June issue of the journal
Men also tend to do better than women in visuospatial abilities,
such as finding their way in new places. Writing in a journal news
release, the researchers said it has been suggested that men have
developed these spatial abilities as the result of natural and
sexual selection throughout human evolution.
The BBC has more about
gender and spatial ability.