A team of 18 researchers at the University of Edinburgh recently scanned the brains of 5,000 men and women between the age of 40 and 70. They discovered that there are significant differences between men and women in the size and density of different parts of their brains.
As science writer Jesse Singal points out in his article on the New York magazine website:
“the most noteworthy difference was that the men in the sample simply had larger brains in general, which isn’t surprising because men are larger than women, in general. They also tended to have denser brains and more white matter.”
These findings apparently fly in the face of the scientific consensus that the brains of each gender are fundamentally similar. On the contrary, the findings would seem to provide credibility to pop psychology of the “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” ilk.
But not so fast.
While there are differences, they’re much smaller than the similarities and averages, in any case, don’t tell us much about the differences between individuals.
More important, while neuroscientists understand the general function of most areas of the brain, they have no idea how those functions take place. It’s not clear what effect greater brain density might have on how the brain works.
In addition, a larger brain doesn’t necessary mean greater intelligence. For example, at 17lbs versus a measly 3lbs for the average human, the largest brains in the animal kingdom belong to Physeter Macrocephalus aka the Sperm Whale. (No pun intended.)
Furthermore, the differences between men’s and women’s brains may be the result, not of genetics but of socialization, a process that alters the structure of the brain as a human being ages.
Finally, when it comes to the business world, the most recent scientific evidence reveals that that women are generally better managers and investors than their male counterparts and they work better in teams.
So maybe having bigger, denser brains just means that men have bigger, denser heads.