Researchers from Glasgow, Leeds and Hertfordshire universities claim to have shown that females are better at multi-tasking than men.
They asked 120 male and 120 female volunteers to show how rapidly they could switch between two simple computer tasks.
They responded to geometrical objects shown on a screen by pressing a button on their right or left side, with response times measured. Men became more sluggish than women. Then another group of 47 men and 47 women were asked to sketch out how they would attempt a search for lost keys in a field, to locate restaurants on a map, and do simple maths. They were also tested on general knowledge.
Women taking part in the test developed far better strategies for finding the keys, said Professor Keith Laws, from Hertfordshire University.
He added this suggested women "may be superior at tasks requiring high-level cognitive control, particularly planning, monitoring and inhibition".