Sex and ability differences in neural activation for disembedding figures: An EEG investigation

Yingli Li, Sina Wu, Jianying Zhu, Michael W. O'Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The contribution of biological sex and cognitive strategy to success at disembedding was investigated in the present study. Forty-two participants were asked to perform the embedded figures and a base-line spatial matching task with their brain activation was concurrently recorded using the electroencephalogram. High performing participants showed increased activation over the left temporal lobe as compared to low performing participants, suggesting the use of a verbally mediated cognitive strategy. Females showed increased activation (relative to males) over the parietal lobe, suggesting the use of a more spatially mediated strategy. In addition, females exhibited higher levels of overall activation during the disembedding process, suggesting the utilization of greater cognitive resources. These brain activation patterns suggest that searching for an embedded figure is somewhat different from other types of spatial and that high and low performing participants, as well as males and females employ different neural strategies for disembedding processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-146
Number of pages5
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • EEG
  • Embedded Figures Test
  • Sex differences


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