Contrary to all prejudices, men can not fundamentally orient themselves better than women. When it comes to the location of fruits and vegetables in a large weekly market, women have clear advantages. Picture: Dungodung,
Reading Since women were responsible for gathering wild plants in the Stone Age, they can find fruits and vegetables even when shopping better. That's what American researchers conclude from investigations at a large weekly market. Although men usually have a better sense of direction, the observed women were more likely to remember the location of certain foods than the male subjects. The researchers asked 86 weekly market visitors to visit six stalls in a specific order. At each stall they were allowed to taste and evaluate a particular plant food. Only then they learned that the researchers wanted to test the spatial orientation in the experiments: The volunteers should determine from the center of the market hall, where they had tasted which food. The forty women did better than the men? regardless of how well the individual participants already knew about the market.

Up to now men had done better in previous orientation attempts with other things than food. The results published now suggest that spatial memory also depends on the type of landmarks, researchers said. Fruits, vegetables and other seasonal goods activated the spatial memory of women.

The differences between men and women have probably evolved in the course of evolution. In the time of the hunters and gatherers, the men had to be able to follow an animal over long distances and then find their way back with their prey. For women, however, it was advantageous if they could remember the location of food sources such as trees or berry bushes.

As further evidence for this hypothesis, the researchers assess the fact that in their study, the orientation ability of the participants also depended on the quality of the food. The more calories a food contained, the better the volunteers could remember where they had tasted it. This effect was seen in both women and men. display

Joshua New (Yale University, New Haven) et al .: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Online Publication, DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2007.0826 ddp / Larissa Kessner


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