A study has confirmed that men and women’s brains are wired in completely different ways.
Men generally have more connections within each hemisphere of the brain, while in women the two halves of the brain are much more interlinked.
Brains of men also contain more nerve fibres and those of women a greater proportion of “grey matter” consisting of the cell bodies of neurons.
The different patterns are likely to explain differences in behaviour and skills seen in men and women, say the US scientists led by Ragini Verma, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Men’s brains appear mainly configured to co-ordinate perception and action. Women’s are more geared up to integrate “heart-and-mind” thought processes, linking analytical and intuitive reasoning.
Previous research has shown men have better motor and spatial skills than women. A surgeon needs good motor skills, for example, to perform precise movements with his hands. Spatial ability, which aids the mental rotation of three-dimensional objects, assists map reading and car parking.
Women on the other hand have been shown to possess superior memories and are better at processing social information. They are better “mind readers” than men, and more sensitive to subtle psychological nuances.
The new findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are from a brain scan study of almost 1,000 children and young people aged eight to 22.
Scientists investigated structural wiring within the brain using a special type of magnetic resonance imaging called diffusion tensor imaging. This makes it possible to map “white matter” — the cable-like fibres along which nerve signals pass — in three dimensions.
The results showed “fundamental sex differences in the structural architecture of the human brain”.