Study Finds That Women Have Better Episodic Memories Than Men

A recent study lead by a Ph.D. student at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden finds that women have better memories regarding what has happened in the past. So-called episodic memory is defined in the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience as “consciously recollected memories related to personally experienced events.” Semantic memory is the ability to recall general knowledge or facts not relating to one’s own past. The current study found that episodic memory was better among women than men.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 600 studies conducted between 1973 and 2013. More than 1.2 million people participated in these studies.

The study found that women were better at remembering words, sentences, prose, nameable images, and locations. Men were better able to remember abstract images and routes. Women were also better at remembering faces, smells, tastes, and colors.

The authors conclude that that “men may use their advantage in spatially demanding episodic memory tasks, whereas women do well in episodic memory tasks that are verbalizable and tasks that are neither verbal nor spatial, such as remembering faces.”

The full study, “What Did You Do Yesterday? A Meta-Analysis of Sex Differences in Episodic Memory, was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. It may be accessed here.

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