It may be time for the brain science to ditch the ‘Mars and Venus’ cliche in humans as a recent study has suggested that the gender gaps in the brain are not so much and it’s gender stereotyping which makes us different.
A research study at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science has debunked the widely-held belief that the hippocampus, a crucial part of the brain that consolidates new memories and helps connect emotions to the senses, is larger in females than in males.
Lise Eliot headed a team of students in a meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes that found no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique that allows researchers to combine the findings from many independent studies into a comprehensive review. The team examined findings from 76 published papers, involving more than 6,000 healthy individuals.
“Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women,” said Dr. Eliot. “They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple datasets and are able to coalesce very large samples of males and females, we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”
The team’s findings challenge the common claim that a disproportionately larger hippocampus explains females’ tendency toward greater emotional expressiveness, stronger interpersonal skills, and better verbal memory.
Many people believe there is such a thing as a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain,’ Eliot said, adding “But when you look beyond the popularized studies, you often find that the differences are minimal.”
The study appears in the journal NeuroImage.