No Such Thing as a Male or Female Brain
For a very long time, conventional wisdom has been that the brains of men and women are wired differently.
Not so, say researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel who analyzed MRI brain scans from more than 1,400 men and women with the goal of identifying structural differences between the two sexes.
The team analyzed the volume of gray matter, comprised of the neural cells where information processing occurs, and white matter, which comprises the axons that facilitate communication between gray matter regions. They also studied data from diffusion tensor imaging – a tool that shows how tracts of white matter extend and connect through different regions of the brain.
To identify which areas were more female than male, and vice versa, the researchers categorized brain features based on which gender they appeared in more. While there were some slight structural differences between male and female brains–for instance, the hippocampus, an area associated with memory and learning sometimes was slightly larger in men–most brains proved to be a mixture of what had been identified as female and male characteristics.
The researchers found that depending on which area of the brain they looked at (gray matter, white matter, or diffusion tensor imaging data), between 23 and 53 percent of the brains contained characteristics that were in both the male and female brain. What’s more, fewer than 8 percent of the brains contained only “male” or only “female” structures.
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