The Male vs. Female Brain: Are They More Similar Than We Think?

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Believe it or not, you and your girlfriend might have very similar brain functions. We know what you’re thinking: Girls are way more sensitive and emotional than us manly men, but according to a new study, the commonly believed idea that male and female brains function differently might not be correct.

The hippocampus, which fuses new memories and emotions together, has been thought to be much larger in females than in males. Leading to — you guessed it — more emotions and feelings surrounding different events. But according to the researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, this is not the case.

“Sex differences in the brain are irresistible to those looking to explain stereotypic differences between men and women,” says head researcher, Lise Eliot, Ph.D., in a release. “They often make a big splash, in spite of being based on small samples. But as we explore multiple datasets and are able to coalesce very large samples of males and females, we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”

Despite many researchers trying to link brain differences with emotional differences, there is little evidence to back this up.  In fact, according to the study, female and male brains are quite similar. 

In order to conduct the research, scientists cross-referenced structural MRIs and looked at a meta-analysis that combined findings from 76 independent studies and published papers. In total, the study looked at more than 6,000 men and women. It revealed little to no difference in the size of the hippocampi or the corpus callosum in men and women.

“Many people believe there is such a thing as a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain,'” Dr. Eliot said. “But when you look beyond the popularized studies — at collections of all the data — you often find that the differences are minimal.”

The difference in emotional behavior and learning is often attributed to connections of nature and nurture from a young age.  Often while girls are taught to be caring and play with dolls, young boys are encouraged to play sports or be involved in other activities involving fewer emotional connections.

Despite the many differences that appear on the outside, there are clearly many similarities on the inside.  So, while you and your significant other’s emotions may be on totally different wavelengths sometimes, just remember that you may be more alike than you think. But don’t worry, we won’t tell if you start binge-watching chick flicks; your secret is safe with us.

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