Sex differences in neural processing of language among children

Douglas D. Burman, Tali Bitan, James R. Booth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why females generally perform better on language tasks than males is unknown. Sex differences were here identified in children (ages 9-15) across two linguistic tasks for words presented in two modalities. Bilateral activation in the inferior frontal and superior temporal gyri and activation in the left fusiform gyrus of girls was greater than in boys. Activation in the left inferior frontal and fusiform regions of girls was also correlated with linguistic accuracy irregardless of stimulus modality, whereas correlation with performance accuracy in boys depended on the modality of word presentation (either in visual or auditory association cortex). This pattern suggests that girls rely on a supramodal language network, whereas boys process visual and auditory words differently. Activation in the left fusiform region was additionally correlated with performance on standardized language tests in which girls performed better, additional evidence of its role in early sex differences for language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1349-1362
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD042049) and the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (DC006149) to JRB.


  • Development
  • Gender
  • Reading
  • Skill
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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