The mechanisms subsuming the brain organization of categories and the corresponding gender related asymmetries are controversial. Some authors believe that the brain organization of categories is innate, whereas other authors maintain that it is shaped by experience. According to these interpretations, gender-related asymmetries should respectively be inborn or result from the influence of social roles. In a previous study, assessing the familiarity of young students with different 'biological' and 'artefact' categories, we had observed no gender-related difference on any of these categories. Since these data could be due to the fact that our students belonged to a generation in which the traditional social roles have almost completely disappeared, we predicted that gender-related asymmetries should be found in older men and women. The familiarity of young and elderly men and women with various semantic categories was, therefore, studied presenting in the verbal and pictorial modality different kinds of living and artefact categories. Results confirmed the hypothesis, because elderly women showed a greater familiarity for flowers and elderly men for animals. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis assuming that gender-related asymmetries for different semantic categories is due to the influence of gender-related social roles.
- Gender asymmetries