Subtleties and Stereotypes Between Male and Female Brains

For more than a century, scientists have been creating and busting stereotypes when it comes to gender and the brain. Longstanding social narratives even go so far as to suggest that women and men are completely different creatures. Because women and men interact with each other on a daily basis, and even change genders, we know this to be false. Yet we can't deny the fact there are some structural subtleties in the human brain when it comes to the sexes. For example, men's brains are heavier and contain more neurons—while women's brains are more compact, with higher amounts of tightly bundled frontal lobe neurons. Outdated thinking might have you believe women and men listen using different parts of their brains, that each gender is more closely tied with either the left or right side, or that there is some hidden secret to communication (think men are from Mars, women are from Venus). And although we seem to know more about what's not true when it comes to these stereotypes, how should the brain's nuances be interpreted?

Studies show there's little difference between sexes when it comes to recognizing humor and cognizant ability, but small differences do exist. For example, the ratio of white and gray matter differ by sex—but what exactly does this mean? That answer remains highly debated, with dozens of studies and theories backing numerous claims. Check out this playlist to learn more about the amazingly similar ways in which women and men's brains tick.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Physically speaking, all humans were once "female" in the womb—though some prefer to say we were gender neutral. 00:02

  2. The first 5–6 weeks of embryonic development involve only the X chromosome, not the Y chromosome. 00:32

  3. Nipples form before the activation of the Y chromosome in embryonic development. 01:28

Written by Curiosity Staff August 18, 2014

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