Think your brain is male or fe­male? It’s prob­a­bly both...

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Fiona MacRae Sci­ence Edi­tor

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’

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