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Title: Men and women differ in the neural basis of handwriting
Authors: Yang, Y
Tam, F
Graham, SJ
Sun, GC
Li, JJ
Gu, CY
Tao, R 
Wang, NZ
Bi, HY
Zuo, ZT
Issue Date: Jul-2020
Source: Human brain mapping, July 2020, v. 41, no. 10, p. 2642-2655
Abstract: There is an ongoing debate about whether, and to what extent, males differ from 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.
Keywords: Exner's area
Sex differences
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Journal: Human brain mapping 
ISSN: 1065-9471
EISSN: 1097-0193
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.24968
Rights: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2020 The Authors. Human Brain Mapping published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The following publication Yang, Y., Tam, F., Graham, S. J., Sun, G. C., Li, J. J., Gu, C. Y., ... & Zuo, Z. T. (2020). Men and women differ in the neural basis of handwriting. Human Brain Mapping, 41(10), 2642-2655 is available at
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