A new brain connectivity study published last week has found that men and women’s brains really are wired differently – surely something that is already clear to anyone who lives, works or generally associates with both men and women? 

The study, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, found striking differences in the neural wiring of men and women giving credence to commonly-held beliefs about their different skills and behaviour.  Ruben Gur, a co-author on the study, said in a statement that “it’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are”.

Ragini Verma, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said the greatest surprise was how much the findings supported old stereotypes, with men’s brains apparently wired more for perception and co-ordinated actions, and women’s for social skills and memory, making them better equipped for multitasking.  The study also found that women are much more intuitive, better at listening, and more emotionally involved when people talk to them.

The study is one of the largest ever done looking at the “connectomes” of the sexes, and drew on nearly 1000 brain scans. Its aim was to better understand how men and women think, and use that information to help treat neurological disease.  The finding showed greater neural connectivity from front to back and within one hemisphere in males, suggesting their brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. In contrast, in females, the wiring goes between the left and right hemispheres, suggesting that they facilitate communication between the analytical and intuition.

I don’t think there has ever been much doubt that men and women are different.  However, demographically speaking, there are some countries – such as India and China – who are becoming seriously imbalanced.  This is already causing serious implications for society.  There are also many who would have us believe that two women or two men can bring up a child just as well as a male and female can.  Science like this seems to help to show that nature is pretty good at bringing its own balance to the world and to families through men and women’s complementary skills. Long may the respective ‘genius’ that men and women bring to the world be equally recognised and appreciated.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...