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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Study finds no difference in male vs. female brains

According to a study that examined sex differences in the brain as a whole, there is no "male brain" and "female brain."

Hamilton Spectator by Allie Shah
Also reported by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) DECEMBER 13, 2015

The brain, it seems, is not part of the battle of the sexes.

There is no such thing as a "male brain" and a "female brain," according to a study that examined sex differences in the brain.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University analyzed MRI scans of more than 1,400 brains.

They concluded that the brain does not reflect a clear dichotomy based on gender differences in the same way that — say — sex organs do.

Instead, human brains are unpredictable mash-ups of "masculine" and "feminine" traits. Researchers also found no distinction between men and women when it comes to grey matter.

"Brains with features that are consistently at one end of the 'maleness-femaleness' continuum are rare," the authors wrote this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Rather, most brains are comprised of unique 'mosaics' of features — some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males."

Bob your blogger writing here; I was completely surprised and delighted by this study. It helps me continue the argument that a good writer (even of romance) is a good writer, no matter the sex of the author.

Since the article above is meant to challenge pre-conceptions, perhaps a trip back to that ground we thought we all stood on would be appropriate. If you remove brain function and topology  (that is, each brain whether male or female is unique!) from the argument below, you end up with a much stronger case for cultural, social, historical, generational influence and imprinting to explain why we do all the silly things we do to drive each other crazy.

Are There Differences between the Brains of Males and Females?

Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD

That men and women are different, everyone knows that.

But, aside from external anatomical and primary and secondary sexual differences, scientists know also that there are many other subtle differences in the way the brains from men and women process language, information, emotion, cognition, etc.

One of the most interesting differences appear in the way men and women estimate time, judge speed of things, carry out mental mathematical calculations, orient in space and visualize objects in three dimensions, etc. In all these tasks, women and men are strikingly different, as they are too in the way their brains process language. This may account, scientists say, for the fact that there are many more male mathematicians, airplane pilots, bush guides, mechanical engineers, architects and race car drivers than female ones.
On the other hand, women are better than men in human relations, recognizing emotional overtones in others and in language, emotional and artistic expressiveness, esthetic appreciation, verbal language and carrying out detailed and pre-planned tasks. For example, women generally can recall lists of words or paragraphs of text better than men (13).
The "father" of sociobiology, Edward O. Wilson, of Harvard University (10), said that human females tend to be higher than males in empathy, verbal skills, social skills and security-seeking, among other things, while men tend to be higher in independence, dominance, spatial and mathematical skills, rank-related aggression, and other characteristics.
When all these investigations began, scientists were skeptical about the role of genes and of biological differences, because cultural learning is very powerful and influential among humans. Are girls more prone to play with dolls and cooperate among themselves than boys, because they are taught to be so by parents, teachers and social peers, or is it the reverse order?

However, gender differences are already apparent from just a few months after birth, when social influence is still small. For example, Anne Moir and David Jessel, in their remarkable and controversial book "Brain Sex" (11), offer explanations for these very early differences in children:
"These discernible, measurable differences in behaviour have been imprinted long before external influences have had a chance to get to work. They reflect a basic difference in the newborn brain which we already know about -- the superior male efficiency in spatial ability, the greater female skill in speech."
But now, after many careful controlled studies where environment and social learning were ruled out, scientists learned that there may exist a great deal of neurophysiological and anatomical differences between the brains of males and females.
Bob again: In the doctor’s last sentence, he writes “may exist.” The problem is the doctor didn’t know. But now we do.
Go write, ladies and gentlemen.


  1. Bob: What a great article. It's good to know the differences between men and women, but it's even better to know there are no "female" or "male" brains. It's why men can write books about women and women can write about men. Thanks for this help.

  2. Your interesting post started me wondering about the future, when doctors are able to successfully transplant human brains. Will they be faced with a social delimma, or face the likelihood of creating miscreant, a Frankenstein fit only for a science fiction world? Perhaps such surgery will create more problems than it fixes. Something else to think on...