Men and women see the world differently, according to new research that finds that while men are more sensitive to fine detail and moving objects, women are better at discriminating between colors.
"As with other senses, such as hearing and the olfactory system, there are marked sex differences in vision between men and women," researcher Israel Abramov, of the City University of New York (CUNY), said in a statement. Past studies have shown that women have more sensitive ears and noses compared to men.
"[A] recent, large review of the literature concluded that, in most cases females had better sensitivity, and discriminated and categorized odors better than males," Abramov and his colleagues wrote in the study published in the journal Biology of Sex Differences.
Researchers compared the vision of men and women over the age of 16 and who had normal color vision and 20/20 vision or perfect vision with glasses or contacts.
Researchers asked participants to describe different colors shown to them, and they found that men required a slightly longer wavelength of color to perceive the same shade as women and were less able to discriminate the differences between hues, meaning that if both sexes looked at an orange, the fruit will appear redder to the man than to the woman. Another example is that is that grass would look yellower to a man and greener to a woman.
Researchers found that men also had a broader range in the center of the spectrum where they were less able to discriminate between colors like shades of yellow, green and blue.
However, when researchers measured participants' sensitivity to contrast by having participants look at images made up of flashing light and dark bars that varied in width and changed in color, men were better at identifying the more rapidly changing images made up of thinner bars.
Researchers explained that these differences in vision may be linked to specific sets of thalamic neurons in the brain's primary visual cortex. They explained that the development of these neurons is controlled by androgens, a male sex hormone, during embryogenesis or when the embryo is developing into a fetus, meaning that males have 25 percent more of these neurons than females.
"We suggest that, since these neurons are guided by the cortex during embryogenesis, that testosterone plays a major role, somehow leading to different connectivity between males and females. The evolutionary driving force between these differences is less clear," Abramov said.
Another recent study published in the journal Vision Research, found that the eyes of men and women tend to focus on different things. While men are more likely to focus on the mouth of a person in conversation and are more likely to be distracted by movement behind the person, women tend to shift their gaze between the person's eyes and body and are also more likely to be distracted by other people, according to researchers from the University of Southern California.