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She Recalls, He Forgets: True or False?

It All Depends on What Sort of Memory Is at Stake, Researchers Report
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 22, 2008 -- Women may have the upper hand when it comes to memory, but there is a weak link in their memory chain.

Swedish psychology experts report that women tend to have sharper memories than men when it comes to memories based on words or faces.

But men's memories are better for spatial information, such as recalling a route or how odd-shaped objects look from various angles.

The researchers came to those conclusions after reviewing studies on gender and memory dating from 1974 to 2007. Those studies ranged from Europe to the U.S., Australia, and Bangladesh.

But the findings don't mean that women have perfect memory, or that men don't remember well.

The sex differences are "statistically rather small," write the researchers. They included Agneta Herlitz, PhD, of the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Herlitz and colleagues studied the big picture, not individual differences. There are bound to be exceptions to the general patterns they saw, which are noted in February's edition of Current Directions in Psychological Science.

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