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Sexual orientation related differences in spatial memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 February 2003

Rahman Qazi*
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
Wilson Glenn D.
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
Abrahams Sharon
Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, UK
Reprint requests to: Qazi Rahman, Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, De Crespigny Park, London, SE5 8AF, UK. E-mail:


The purpose of this study was to investigate and extend previously reported sex differences in object location memory by comparing the performance of heterosexual and homosexual males and females. Subjects were 240 healthy, right-handed heterosexual and homosexual males and females. They were instructed to study 16 common, gender-neutral objects arranged randomly in an array and subsequently tested for object recall, object recognition and spatial location memory. Females recalled significantly more objects than males, although there were no group differences in object recognition. Decomposition of significant interactions between sex and sexual orientation on spatial location memory (controlling for differences in object recall, age and IQ) revealed that heterosexual females and homosexual males scored better than heterosexual males, and no different from each other. There were no differences between homosexual and heterosexual females. The findings suggest that homosexual males and heterosexual females encode, store and retrieve positional and relational information about spatial layouts similarly, pointing to within-sex variations in the neural architecture underlying spatial memory. (JINS, 2003, 9, 376–383.)

Research Article
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2003

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