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Girl and Boy Brains Are Basically the Same

Photograph by Twenty20

Sorry, but your girl's tastes, talents and mindset aren't a consequence of her gender. Your boy's desire to kick and tell fart jokes has nothing to do with his male brain.

Scientists in Israel concluded that brains share a patchwork of forms, there's nothing that defines a female brain or a male brain.

Scientists have been hunting for sex differences in the brain since forever. Once they could image the brain, they figured it was just a matter of time before the found the pink patch in women's brains and the blue patch in men's.

They never did, and this new research concludes they never will. Because it's not there.

Sure, neuroscientists have often said that men have bigger amygdala than women. But that's true only slightly, and amygdala size is highly susceptible to environment.

In this latest research, behavioral neuroscientist at Tel Aviv University Daphna Joel looked at sets of MRI brain images. She and her team measured in more than 1,400 people the volume of gray matter, tissue that contains the core of nerve cells and white matter, the bundles of nerves that transmit signals around the nervous system.

They found few structural differences. Though the hippocampus tended to be bigger in men than in women, they were plenty of women in the study with the more "male-sized" hippocampus. Some men had tiny "lady" ones. "The majority of the brains were a mosaic of male and female structures," Sciencemag.com reported.

So what does this mean? For researchers, it means they no longer have to distinguish between male and female brains in their research. For the rest of us, it means we need to look for other reasons to explain differences in male and female behavior.

We can also stop behaving as if boys are just naturally better at math, logic, arguing and playing guitar. And it's not a girl's brain that drives her to gossip, nurture her dolls or like the color pink (if any of those things are even true for an individual who happens to be female).

The researchers say this calls into question arguments for single-sex schools.

This must mean mommy brain has environmental causes (unscientifically, we're going with a lack of sleep).

The team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PBS's "Nova" recently featured research on brains and gender, which you can watch online.

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