Y: Men and women have some obvious biological differences. But what about the brain? Are there such things as "female brains" and "male brains"?
D: I'm going to say yes, Yaël. How else to explain behavioral differences between men and women?
Y: You mean like how women are considered to be generally more emotive and collaborative, while men are generally seen as more aggressive and competitive?
D: Yes, among other differences.
Y: Well, Don, whether or not those differences are as pronounced as you claim, they're probably not due to differences between the brains of men and women. A study done by researchers at the University of Tel Aviv looked at the brains of more than 1400 men and women and found that they don't fit easily or neatly into male and female categories. Instead, every brain had a combination of structures. But the brains did not appear to be structured in ways that would easily categorize them as distinctly male or female.
D: Like what?
Y: Well, for example, the left hippocampus, which is tied to memory, is typically larger in women. But the researchers found a lot of overlap in the brains they studied. Some brains from men had a bigger hippocampus, and some female brains had a smaller one.
D: So is it fair to say that instead of a brain being male or female, it probably exists on some sort of continuum?
Y: Precisely. And as for typically male and female behaviors, at least some may be more myth than fact.
D: OK, but men and women are still different, right?Y: Of course. Men and women are distinct in all sorts of ways, but maybe not as different as we assume. At least when it comes to the brain.