Men’s and women’s brains work differently

Published 25 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Researchers believe that gender plays a critical role in brain development.

The brains of women and men function very differently, according to a new study. In particular, differences were found in the parts of the brain that regulate self-focus, rewards, and emotions.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used artificial intelligence to differentiate between brain scans, teaching the machine to recognize unique patterns between the sexes. During the tests, the AI was shown around 1,500 scans and was able to determine with 90% accuracy whether they were from a man or a woman. This suggests that there are gender differences in how the brain works, the researchers say.

In particular, they identified differences in the part of the brain responsible for self-focus and introspection, as well as in the striatum, which plays a role in creating habits and rewards, and in the limbic network, which regulates emotions.

– This is very strong evidence that gender is a determinant of brain organization in humans, Vinod Menon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, said in a statement.

“Gender plays a critical role”

The researchers went a step further, developing another model that could predict people’s performance on behavioral tasks based on the gender differences they had already identified. When they tested the model, they found that such functional differences in the brain could have a significant impact on behavior.

The researchers hope that their findings can help explain and better manage psychological or neurological differences between the sexes. For example, women are more likely to develop depression, while men are more likely to develop addictions.

– An important motivation for this study is that gender plays a crucial role in brain development, aging, and the manifestation of psychiatric and neurological disorders, he says.

Previous studies have also shown differences in the brains of men and women. For example, the dorsal premammillary nucleus, the part of the brain that detects danger, is larger in men than in women. In contrast, women have a larger and more active mirror neuron system, which makes them better at reading facial expressions and understanding others’ emotions.

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