Think your brain is male or female? It’s probably both...
IT’S been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. But it seems most of us come from the same planet after all.
Scientists say it is wrong to think that men have one type of brain and women another.
While the odd person will have an all-male ‘Mars’ or all-female ‘Venus’ brain, the majority will have one somewhere between the two, research has concluded.
In other words, most brains are inter-sex.
Israeli researcher Daphna Joel analysed detailed brain scans done during four previous projects involving more than 1,400 men and women. In each study, she identified the brain regions that differed most between the sexes and then looked at how many participants had one brain type or the other.
This showed entirely male or female brains to be rare – and in one of the four studies there were none at all.
Professor Joel, of 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 under- mines any attempt to distinguish between a “male” and a “female” form for specific brain structures.
‘Rather, the forms that are evident in most females are also evident in most males.
‘Human brains cannot be categorised into two distinct classes – male and female brain.’
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she also debunked the idea that the two sexes have wildly different personalities.
Professor Joel said that while there are many small differences, very few individuals will have solely ‘male’ or ‘female’ traits.
Instead they will have a mixture of characteristics. Men who enjoy traditional male pursuits such as watching sport, for example, can also like the ballet, usually more popular with women. Professor Joel said that society has perpetuated the idea that men and women – and their brains – are poles apart to justify treating the sexes differently. And she argued that her research calls into question the wisdom of single-sex schooling.
Professor Joel said: ‘This is built on the assumption that boys and girls are two different classes of people. We show this is not true.
‘People come in many, many dif- ferent forms and most are equally likely in males and females.’
Humans have evolved unique genes to protect against dementia as they age, research suggests.
The finding lends support to the so-called ‘Grandmother Hypothesis’ – said to explain why we live so long after our fertile years.
Scientists believe natural selection preserved helpful gene mutations – and tried to eradicate harmful ones – to ensure older adults continued to benefit their communities. If large numbers suffered from dementia, they could not care for grandchildren and pass down knowledge.
The research, from the University of California at San Diego, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
‘Assume boys and girls are different’