Sex differences in patterns of EEG asymmetry

Richard J. Davidson, Gary E. Schwartz, Eric Pugash, Edward Bromfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


This paper reports three studies showing sex differences in EEG asymmetry during self-generated cognitive and affective tasks. In the first experiment, bilateral EEG, quantified for alpha on-line, was recorded from right-handed subjects while they either whistled, sang or recited lyrics of familiar songs. The results revealed significant asymmetry between the whistle and talk conditions only for subjects with no familial left-handedness within this group, only for females and not for males. In the second experiment, bilateral EEG was recorded while right-handed subjects (with no familial left-handedness) self-induced covert affective and non-affective states. Results revealed significantly greater relative right-hemisphere activation during emotion versus non-emotion trials only in females; males showed no significant task-dependent shifts in asymmetry between conditions. The third experiment was designed to test the hypothesis that females show greater percent time asymmetry than males during biofeedback training for symmetical and asymmetrical EEG patterns. Results confirmed this prediction as well as indicating that females show better control of such asymmetrical cortical patterning. These findings provide new neuropsychological support for the hypothesis of greater bilateral flexibility in females during self-generation tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex differences in patterns of EEG asymmetry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this