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Gender influences the production and acquisition of complex skilled praxic movements

By Nichola Rice Cohen, Marc Pomplun, Brian J. Gold and Robert Sekuler


The praxis system comprises a network of brain regions dedicated to complex skilled movements. Following suggestions of a female advantage on tasks that recruit the praxis system (Chipman & Hampson, 2006), we investigated how males and females acquire praxic movements. Subjects viewed and imitated sequences of hand movements, which were repeated ten times. Subjects ’ imitations were captured by a data glove, and the temporal and spatial characteristics of the imitation were compared to the model sequence. We propose a model that reflects the computations required for imitating hand movement sequences, and define the errors that arise from failures at these computations. Our results demonstrate a female advantage in both the production and acquisition of hand movement sequences, and show that this gender difference is accounted for by a female advantage in motor selection and preparation, rather than at the level of executing or sequencing the gestures. We outline the important implications of our findings for gender-sensitive instructional strategies, as well as for the understanding of the human praxis system

Topics: Imitation, Sequence learning, Apraxia, Sex differences, Gesture
Year: 2009
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