Is your brain male or female? According to scientists from Tel Aviv University led by psychobiologist Daphna Joel, human brains do show gender-related differences. However, it cannot be rightly said that there is a male brain and a female brain.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, the scientists, in order to find out whether structural differences in human brains translated to cognitive differences, closely studied brain scans of 1400 men and women. Surprisingly, no matter what type of scans they used, which group they studied or which brain part they analysed, the scientists could not find patterns that would enable them to say that there is a male and a female brain.

Previously, analysis of more than 100 studies revealed that on average, men have brains 8-13% greater than volume of women’s brains. In a 2014 report in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews journal, noticeable differences in brain were in areas that control emotions, memory, language and behaviour. However, Dr. Joel’s study has proved that brains can never be classified into two distinct classes – male and female.

“Each brain is a unique mosaic of features, some of which may be more common in females compared with males, others may be more common in males compared with females, and still others may be common in both females and males,” Joel’s team wrote in the published study.

Before coming to this conclusion, Dr. Joel was constantly studying brain “elements” that were either distinctly female or distinctly male. After identifying the elements, her team started observing whether men tended to have the male elements and women the female elements.

They started with MRIs measuring volume of grey matter of 169 women and 112 men in the age group of 18 to 79. 116 separate regions were examined and only 10 were selected that showed maximum differences in men and women. The researchers divided all the scans in three categories – one-third most female, one-third most male and one-third overlapping.

The researchers were puzzled to see that only six per cent of the brains consistently ranked among “most female” and “most male” in all the ten categories while 35 per cent showed extreme variability. The male and female brain test proved that there are both female and male traits in a brain.

The scientists kept on trying with various other methods such as increasing threshold value, looking at a different set of scans measuring thickness of grey matter in cerebrum’s outer layer and even considered two large psychology studies of US teens that had 570 and 4860 participants respectively and another data set of 263 university students. All results led to one conclusion – there is no such thing as male or female brain.

“This extensive overlap undermines any attempt to distinguish between a 'male' and a 'female' form for specific brain features,” Joel and her team said.

The Journal of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has published the study, reports Sky News Australia.

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