Durham University

Psychology

Cognitive neuroscience of sex and gender

It is generally agreed that sex and gender differences in brain and cognition are neither purely biological nor purely social in origin. Our research on cognitive sex differences and sex differences in functional brain organization and brain connectivity takes into account biological and social factors, as well as the interaction between them, and addresses ‘‘the small difference’’ within a psychobiosocial approach. We consider sex differences in a variety of specific cognitive abilities, including language, memory and spatial cognition as well as inter-individual differences in cognitive strategies, meta-cognition and cognitive control. Specifically, we are interested in how these differences are influenced by factors ranging from neuromodulatory properties of (sex) hormones (e.g. estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, oxytocin) to gender stereotypes. Additionally, a new research stream looks at the neuroprotective properties of sex hormones in clinical populations (e.g. schizophrenia).