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One more brain myth bites the dust: There’s no Male Brain, or Female Brain; There’s Human Brain

sn-genderbrainThe brains of men and women aren’t real­ly that dif­fer­ent, study finds (Sci­ence):

As soon as sci­en­tists could image the brain, they began hunt­ing for sex differences…in the new study, researchers led by Daph­na Joel, a behav­ioral neu­ro­sci­en­tist at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty in Israel, tried to be as com­pre­hen­sive as pos­si­ble. Using exist­ing sets of MRI brain images, they mea­sured the vol­ume of gray mat­ter (the dark, knob­by tis­sue that con­tains the core of nerve cells) and white mat­ter (the bun­dles of nerve fibers that trans­mit sig­nals around the ner­vous sys­tem) in the brains of more than 1400 indi­vid­u­als. They also stud­ied data from dif­fu­sion ten­sor imag­ing, which shows how tracts of white mat­ter extend through­out the brain, con­nect­ing dif­fer­ent regions.

The major­i­ty of the brains were a mosa­ic of male and female struc­tures, the team reports…Depending on whether the researchers looked at gray mat­ter, white mat­ter, or the dif­fu­sion ten­sor imag­ing data, between 23% and 53% of brains con­tained a mix of regions that fell on the male-end and female-end of the spec­trum. Very few of the brains—between 0% and 8%—contained all male or all female struc­tures. “There is no one type of male brain or female brain,” Joel says.

There is no sense in talk­ing about male nature and female nature,” Joel says. “There is no one per­son that has all the male char­ac­ter­is­tics and anoth­er per­son that has all the female char­ac­ter­is­tics. Or if they exist they are real­ly, real­ly rare to find.”

Study: Sex beyond the gen­i­talia: The human brain mosa­ic (Pro­ceed­ings of the Nation­al Acad­e­mies of Sci­ence). From the abstract:

  • Sig­nif­i­cance: Sex/gender dif­fer­ences in the brain are of high social inter­est because their pres­ence is typ­i­cal­ly assumed to prove that humans belong to two dis­tinct cat­e­gories not only in terms of their gen­i­talia, and thus jus­ti­fy dif­fer­en­tial treat­ment of males and females. Here we show that, although there are sex/gender dif­fer­ences in brain and behav­ior, humans and human 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. Our results demon­strate that regard­less of the cause of observed sex/gender dif­fer­ences in brain and behav­ior (nature or nur­ture), human brains can­not be cat­e­go­rized into two dis­tinct class­es: male brain/female brain.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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