females in their language skills. In the case of handwriting, a composite language skill involving language and motor processes, behavioral observations consistently show robust sex differences but the mechanisms underlying the effect are unclear. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a copying task, the present study examined the neural basis of sex differences in handwriting in 53 healthy adults (ages 19–28, 27 males). Compared to females, males showed increased activation in the left posterior middle frontal gyrus (Exner's area), a region thought to support the conversion between orthographic and graphomotor codes. Functional connectivity between Exner's area and the right cerebellum was greater in males than in females.
Furthermore, sex differences in brain activity related to handwriting were independent
of language material. This study identifies a novel neural signature of sex differences
in a hallmark of human behavior, and highlights the importance of considering
sex as a factor in scientific research and clinical applications involving handwriting.
- Exner's area, fMRI, handwriting, sex differences