Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Sexual orientation related differences in spatial memory


QAZI  RAHMAN  a1 c1, GLENN D.  WILSON  a1 and SHARON  ABRAHAMS  a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate and extend previously reported sex differences in object location memory by comparing the performance of heterosexual and homosexual males and females. Subjects were 240 healthy, right-handed heterosexual and homosexual males and females. They were instructed to study 16 common, gender-neutral objects arranged randomly in an array and subsequently tested for object recall, object recognition and spatial location memory. Females recalled significantly more objects than males, although there were no group differences in object recognition. Decomposition of significant interactions between sex and sexual orientation on spatial location memory (controlling for differences in object recall, age and IQ) revealed that heterosexual females and homosexual males scored better than heterosexual males, and no different from each other. There were no differences between homosexual and heterosexual females. The findings suggest that homosexual males and heterosexual females encode, store and retrieve positional and relational information about spatial layouts similarly, pointing to within-sex variations in the neural architecture underlying spatial memory. (JINS, 2003, 9, 376–383.)

(Received January 14 2002)
(Revised March 28 2002)
(Accepted April 15 2002)


Key Words: Sex differences; Sexual orientation; Object location memory; Hippocampus.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: Qazi Rahman, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail: q.rahman@iop.kcl.ac.uk