Sexual Dimorphisms in Spatial Memory, Facial Recognition, and Reaction Time


  • Hannah Rose Waller Willamette University
  • Anthony L. Lin Duke University



Sex differences, reaction time, spatial memory, facial recognition


Objectives: Literature suggests that there is a female advantage in facial recognition, and a male one in spatial memory. Researchers in this study investigated whether females outperformed males on a Novel Faces and Places (NFAP) test, which uses both facial recognition and spatial memory measures. NFAP was adapted from the Novel Image Novel Location (NINL) test (Piper, Acevedo, Edwards, Curtiss, McGinnis, & Raber, 2011a). Methods: College students (N=95) completed a demographics survey and took NFAP at one of 5 different display duration conditions. Results: No significant differences were found among the sexes for total NFAP score or for novel faces or novel places identification. However, females had faster reaction times overall, and particularly when making correct judgments. Female correct reaction time was significantly faster than female incorrect reaction time and than both male correct and incorrect reaction times. Also observed was a display duration effect, where a 15 second display duration yielded the highest scores compared to 12, 9, 6, or 3 seconds. Conclusion: These findings indicate that males and females process visual information in different ways. Though no significant differences in score were found, the female advantage seen in NINL did in fact disappear on NFAP as was hypothesized.


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Author Biography

Hannah Rose Waller, Willamette University

I just graduated from Willamette University, where I studied Psychology and am hoping to study Neuroscience in graduate school.



How to Cite

Waller, H. R., & Lin, A. L. (2012). Sexual Dimorphisms in Spatial Memory, Facial Recognition, and Reaction Time. Journal of Student Research, 1(1), 41-48.



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