Male And Female Brain Are Alike — Despite Huge Behavioral Differences, Anatomically They Are Quite Similar, Say Scientists

There’s hardly any difference between the male and female brain, concluded scientists at the end of recently conducted study.

Despite the huge behavioral differences between the genders, there’s virtually no difference between the brains of males and that of the females of the human species. Though there are specific parts that differentiate gender, there’s little difference in the overall structure of the brains to clearly differentiate between the male and female brains, states a new study.

There’s hardly any brain out there that will either have all “male” traits or all “female” traits. Instead, it will be a “mixed bag,” concluded scientists after looking at more than 1,400 brain scans. While some things are more commonly observed in women, others are predominantly observed in the men and some are common in both, making it extremely difficult to pinpoint the gender of a brain merely by looking at its scan.

For quite some time, scientists were convinced that brains can be neatly divided into two sex-based categories, but this study shatters the belief, shared Daphna Joel of Tel-Aviv University. Joel and her co-authors published their work in a paper released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS).

Male And Female Brain Are Alike [Image via PNAS]The scientists peered into brain scans of more than 1,400 participants obtained using the standard Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system. Though traditionally such scans have been extremely useful in detecting anomalies and finding out how the brain works, for the scope of the study, the scientists focused solely on the anatomy. A points-based system was used to measure male and female brains on different aspects like tissue thickness or volume in different parts of the brain, reported Seattle Times. The scientists then analyzed traits that would indicate the biggest sex differences. The grading was then divided into scales that were marked for the male and female brain, and a separate range reserved for intermediate findings.

The scientists intended to find how often the brains fall into one of the three categories. As per the old thinking, the brains should have been easily classified, but the reality was far from simple. There was gross inconsistency, and anything but a predictable pattern. Less than 6 percent of the brains analyzed showed definitive male or female characteristics, besides the specific parts that differentiate gender. There was a much higher probability for an individual to score in both the male and female zones than to show a lineup that indicated only one sex or the other, shared Joel.

“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, the forms that are evident in most females are also evident in most males.”

To cross-verify their findings, researchers also used a very similar approach to analyze psychological and behavioral scores from two prior studies. Despite the much larger participant size, exceeding 5,000, scientists got very similar results. Essentially, the results show, “human brains do not belong to one of two distinct categories: male and female,” reported CBC News.

Male And Female Brain Are Alike [Image via PNAS]Joel added that it is the society that has reinforced the idea that the man and the woman are poles apart. The behavioral traits have been ingrained within the gender stereotype, she 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 different forms and most are equally likely in males and females.”

In a society that wouldn’t have imposed gender based behavioral influences or restrictions, there would have been many activities that would have been popular with both the men and the women, reported the Daily Mail.

[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images, PNAS]