The effects of gender, menstrual phase and practice on the perceived location of the midsagittal plane

Mark E. McCourt, Victor W. Mark, Krestin J. Radonovich, Suzann K. Willison, Pierre Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Women show menstrual phase-related cognitive changes that suggest altered hemispheric activation for a particular task, such that they demonstrate the greatest lateral performance differences on prototypical left hemisphere tasks during the luteal phase and on prototypical right hemisphere tasks during menstruation. Additionally, menstrual phase may alter, total cerebral responsiveness, such that response times and performance accuracy for many tasks are best during the luteal phase and most impaired during the menstrual phase. We evaluated the effect of menstrual phase on spatial bisection (a perceptuospatial task) to help further understand hormonally-mediated changes in interhemispheric dynamics. Healthy young adult women and men blindly pointed to their midsagittal plane with either hand. Women were repeatedly tested according to menstrual phase, and men were tested at similar intervals. The mean pointing error in the luteal phase differed significantly from that of all other phases and did not differ significantly from those of men, who pointed significantly to the left across test sessions. These findings suggest that, in space bisection tasks, women are more likely to have asymmetric hemispheric activation during the luteal phase than during the menstrual phase. Thus, space bisection did not resemble other prototypical right hemisphere behaviors. The luteal phase may have nonspecifically activated both hemispheres on this task instead of suppressing right hemisphere function, and a slight functional asymmetry favoring the right hemisphere may have been promoted. In addition, intermanual pointing discrepancies in both subject groups decreased over repeated sessions. This suggests that, while practice alters an internal kinesthetic reference, it does not influence an imaginal extrapersonal spatial reference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-724
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 11 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Menstrual phase
  • Pseudoneglect
  • Space bisection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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