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Keywords:

  • ERP;
  • Gender differences;
  • Response conflict;
  • Behavioral control

Abstract

The inhibition of inappropriate behaviors is important for adaptive living in changing environments. The present study investigated gender-related behavioral inhibitory control by recording event-related potentials for standard and deviant stimuli while subjects performed a standard/deviant distinction task by accurately pressing different keys within 1000 ms. The results showed faster reaction times (RTs) for deviant stimuli in women than in men, although RTs for standard stimuli were similar across genders. There were significant gender and stimulus interaction effects on mean amplitudes during each of the 170–230-ms, 250–330-ms, and 350–600-ms intervals, and women exhibited shorter latencies and larger amplitudes than men at deviant-related P2, N2, and P3 components. As an accurate, fast response to the rare deviant stimuli involves behavioral inhibitory control on the prepotent response whereas the response to the standard stimuli does not, it is clear that there is a general gender difference in behavioral control for human adults. This may relate to differential inhibitory demands by each gender during evolution.