Scientists finally put the male vs female brain debate to rest

1 Dec 2015

For years we have heard in the male vs female brain debate that there are fundamental scientific differences between the sexes’ brains that usually result in the trotting out of stereotypes that say men are better at giving directions, while women are more emotional than men.

But now, according to New Scientist, a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel has examined the brain scans of 1,400 people across the wide age spectrum of 13 to 85 to find any variations in their brain structure.

To do this, they identified 29 different regions of the brain that have been considered to be of different sizes depending on whether someone is male or female, such as the hippocampus and the inferior frontal gyrus.

As it turns out, their findings showed that there is no definitive gender structure to the brain, rather that both males and females share different sized regions of the brain on an individual basis.

Therefore, a male might have larger or smaller regions of the brain that are typically considered common in females, and vice versa.

Out of the entire study, less than 8pc were shown to have what would be defined as an ‘all-male’ or ‘all-female’ brain, but this is merely coincidental on an individual basis, rather than proof of the existence of gender-specific brains.

“The theory goes that once a foetus develops testicles, they secrete testosterone which masculinises the brain,” said one of the researchers, Daphna Joel. “If that were true, there would be two types of brain.”

With these findings, Joel hopes, that it could pave the way for a future where a person is not classified by a skillset just because they happen to be of a particular gender.

“We separate girls and boys, men and women all the time,” she said in an interview. “It’s wrong, not just politically, but scientifically – everyone is different.”

Brain cut-out image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic