Young women are much better at this than men, according to neuroscientists

Shutterstock

Although the majority of reasonable 21st-century humans understands that women are entitled to the same opportunities as men, part of us will always be competitive about the distinctions that separate the two. Popular areas of contention typically address cognitive prowess.

Take a recent study published in The Royal Society journal for instance, that posits young women are significantly better at multi-tasking compared to men at any age.

“Human arm swing looks and feels highly automated, yet it is increasingly apparent that higher centers, including the cortex, are involved in many aspects of locomotor control. The addition of a cognitive task increases arm swing asymmetry during walking, but the characteristics and mechanism of this asymmetry are unclear,” the authors wrote in the new report.

“We hypothesized that this effect is lateralized and a Stroop word-color naming task—primarily involving left hemisphere structures—would reduce right arm swing only. Women under 60 are surprisingly resistant to this effect, revealing unexpected gender differences atop the hierarchical chain of locomotor control.”

The researchers recorded patterns with infrared cameras in 83 healthy subjects between the ages of 18 and 80 while they walked normally on a treadmill and then again while they performed a congruent and incongruent Stroop task.

“The primary measure of arm swing asymmetry—an index based on both three-dimensional wrist trajectories in which positive values indicate proportionally smaller movements on the right—increased significantly under dual-task conditions in those aged 40–59 and further still in the over-60s, driven by reduced right arm flexion,” the authors continued.

Followup analysis saw participants complete verbal language tasks alongside walking regimens. Young women outperformed men and older women in all of the experiments featured in the report.

The authors intend to conduct more research to determine if the results of their paper remain consistent with other activities. As it stands, the reasoning behind the present data can only be theorized.

The data indicates that women may have a neurological advantage when it comes to multitasking.

“When we added the verbal task, we observed that in men of all ages and women over 60, this symmetry broke down, with a reduction in right arm swing while the left arm carried on swinging normally,”  the authors concluded in a press release.

The left side of the brain is believed to control the right arm as well as the language center of the brain, which is where that link comes in. When it came to men and older women, the researchers said that the language task seemed “to overwhelm the left brain to the extent that the movement of the arm on the right is reduced.”