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A Deeper Look at Gender Difference in Multitasking: Gender-Specific Mechanism of Cognitive Control

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3 Author(s)
Dongning Ren ; State Key Lab. of Brain & Cognitive Sci., Chinese Acad. of Sci., Beijing, China ; Haotian Zhou ; Xiaolan Fu

The notion that women are better at multitasking has already become part of our folk knowledge that has been widely accepted. However, scientific community surprisingly falls silent on this issue. The present research attempted to evaluate this idea critically using strictly controlled lab experiment. We found that men's performance in a commonly adopted cognitive test deteriorated when they were required to coordinate this primary test with a simple secondary test. In sharp contrast, women's performance on the very same test improved upon the inclusion of the secondary test. This surprising gender-specific pattern is suggestive of the involvement of cognitive control in the playing out of the putative gender discrepancy in multitasking. Though the present study does not speak directly to whether women do possess superior multitasking ability over men, the empirical data presented here is in alignment with the evolutionary speculation about this gender gap derived from the Hunter-Gatherer Hypothesis and point to a new venue for further research on this issue.

Published in:

Natural Computation, 2009. ICNC '09. Fifth International Conference on  (Volume:5 )

Date of Conference:

14-16 Aug. 2009