Some info on the male and female brain: It’s often said that in a relationship, one is the brains and one is the beauty – whether it’s the male or female, we’ll let you decide the roles. But researchers beating their brains out over scans of guy’s and gal’s gray matter found that tucked up inside the cranium, there essentially is no such thing as “male” or “female” brain.
That said, I know there is a somatic anomaly in a man’s brain that physically prevents him from getting soiled socks into the hamper. But I digress.
Reports The Washington Post on December 1: “Lots of folks – well-intentioned and otherwise – like to point out the supposed differences between male and female brains. But it’s time to throw away the brain gender binary, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s exciting news for anyone who studies the brain – or gender. And it’s a step towards validating the experiences of those who live outside the gender binary.”
Researchers from Tel-Aviv University put 1,400 men and women under a brain scan, and reviewed the anatomy from each gender. While specific parts of the brain reveal what a person’s sex is, there are no individual, gender-specific traits found in either a man or a woman’s brain. Essentially, the brain is the same – even though sometimes men and their Mars origins, and women, native to Venus, act like polar opposites.
In the analysis, researchers focused on traits that revealed the biggest differences in sex – for example, a man’s brain is typically ten percent larger. (And before you guys get a big head – literally – over that statement, understand that it has to do with your bigger body mass, not an increased processing power.) They then compared structural differences to behavioral ones – and found that rarely did any of the brains fit into a “male” or “female” mold.
In fact, only six percent of the brains could be definitively labeled male or female. What was far more common was for a person’s brain to show both male and female “zones.”
Professor Daphna Joel, from the School of Psychological Sciences at Tel Aviv University, said: “There was extensive overlap for all brain regions and connections assessed, irrespective of the type of sample, measure or analysis. This extensive overlap undermines any attempt to distinguish between a ‘male’ and a ‘female’ form for specific brain structures.”
Rather, Joel said forms that are evident in most females are also evident in most males, and vice versa. In other words, men typically like football, but can also enjoy ballet, or Michael Buble, or watching the Kardashians. And ladies, it’s ok to enjoy some toilet humor, or telling the same asinine story over and over, or taking a whiff of our pits.
“Human brains cannot be categorized into two distinct classes… We separate girls and boys, men and women all the time,” Joel told New Scientist. “It’s wrong, not just politically, but scientifically – everyone is different.”
Professor Joel says the study smashes old conventions when it comes to the way men and women learn, grow and interact.
“This is built on the assumption that boys and girls are two different classes of people. We show this is not true,” she said. “People come in many, many different forms and most are equally likely in males and females.”
What’s in your head? Leave your thoughts below on the male and female brain.