Even 100 years of research cannot signify male and female brains

The brain is the most complex and fascinating structure among living beings. The research about the brain is fast proceeding, and even now, we don’t know the clearcut differences between a man and a woman’s brain. The science of sex difference has always been fraught with controversy. In the 19th century, Samuel George measured their cranial capacity and said the male brain occupied more space than the female. Gustave Le Bon also supported his statement and found that the male brains are larger than the female that makes men a bit smarter. However, the controversy put forwarded by John Stuart Mill, made the research to look in the other way. What he said was that the elephant and whales must be smarter than humans when we compare the brain according to the size and volume. This prompted them to focus on the relative sizes of brain regions.

Some have found that the frontal lobe, responsible for intelligence, is larger in males, and the parietal lobe located just behind the frontal lobe is larger in females. Later, it also favored controversy. People then looked at the anatomical differences of the brain between men and women. They found differences in the subdivision of the hypothalamus, which plays a key role in reproductive growth and behavior. But the prime goal of the research is to find the sex difference in thinking and how it can be varied among them. They thought that the cerebrum might be the factor causing the difference and said corpus callosum is larger in women on average, and only some parts are bigger. This was a breakthrough at those times, but the later study showed that even small brains have a proportionately larger corpus callosum resulting in inconsistent findings.

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New studies have revealed that the male and female brains typically overlap and therefore result in combination. It involved MRIs of 1,400 brains, analyzing the 10 brain regions with the largest average sex differences. When the trait lies in the overlapping region, one cannot identify sex with confidence. The results showed that only 3percent to 6 percent of people were given males or females for all structures, the remains were mosaic and not significant.

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Prenatal hormone, learning, and genetic studies- links to the sex difference

Scientists led many studies later and declared all the possible results. They injected testosterone prenatally to a pregnant rodent and found that her female offspring showed male sexual character postnatally. All animal models declared a positive result and are significant. But, it is unethical to do this kind of research in the human field, hence the work is inconsistent with the findings.

We could also think that the changes are due to genes. To prove by an example, they have used a zebra finch with an anomaly. The zebra finch was male on the right side and female on the left. Although both sides received the same environment and hormones, they found that singing-related brain structures (usually in males) significantly bulged only on the right side than the left. It has also been done in mice, and the result proved that the gene, despite the changes caused by hormones, would result in significant brain difference.

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We, humans, learn most of the things after birth. Learning also contributes to a great extent in developing one’s brain. It can be of anything like reading books, learning musical instruments, remembering the facts. All this could lead to a change in the synaptic network that occurs in the neurons. So, it is not likely to say that all sex differences are innate. All these studies depict that the sex differences in the brain are due to the combination of genes, hormones, and learning.

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Source: ScienceAlert

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