Men and women have different brains!
Men have more neurones, women are more gifted when it comes to language... No, these are not misogynist rantings but the results of scientific research into men and women’s brains! Researchers have compared the brains and cognitive abilities of both sexes and come up with some surprising results...
Do men and women have exactly the same intellectual performance? This is a question many scientists have been asking themselves for years.
Size doesn’t matter!
Before anything else, do women really have smaller brains than men? Curiously, we still do not know the answer to this question. In fact, the results of the different studies carried out are often contradictory as the conditions used to measure brain size vary enormously.
Of course, the fact that women are generally smaller leaves us to think that the female brain might necessarily be smaller too. But in any case, the volume of the brain has nothing to do with intellectual capacity. This has been supported by an American study1, which proved that the total number of neurones in the brain was independent of its size. Despite all this, the study did show that men have, on average, 16% more neurones...
Language and gender
On the other hand, it seems apparent that men and women’s brains do not work in the same way. An American researcher2 used medical imaging to observe the brains of 19 men and 19 women undergoing the same language tests (orthography, vocabulary and pronunciation...). He established that men used the left part of their brains for this, while women used both sides of their brains. But the researcher found no evidence of better performance in the test for either gender. Should we conclude that men can only make use of one half of the brain for one task while women need to use more grey matter when carrying out these functions?
Better sense of direction?
“Men have a better sense of direction than women!” You will certainly have heard this statement before. If you’re a woman, you will probably immediately dismiss the idea while men think: “Yes, that’s actually true.” Science also asks itself this question... And it seems to agree with the idea that men have a better sense of direction.
This might translate into better spatial awareness and could therefore make men better at directions. This could be linked to the action of male hormones during the development of the brain, possibly encouraging its right side to develop more. This part of the brain is responsible for direction and space in particular. Finally, you cannot accuse researchers of gender bias, as much of this research has been carried out by a woman, Doreen Kimura 3, 4.
1 - J Comp Neurol, July 1997 ; vol. 384 : p. 312-20.
2 - Nature February 1995 ; vol. 373 : p. 607-9.
3 - Curr Opin Neurobiol April 1996 ; vol. 6 : p. 259-63.
4 - Percept Mot Skills February 1996 ; vol. 82 : p. 3-13.
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