Forget everything you’ve heard about males being better drivers or girls learning best in groups (although, life in general does cost more for women than for men). Cranial differences between the two genders are a total myth, science says.
It’s a common misconception that people have either a “female” or “male” brain, according to Daphna Joel at Tel Aviv University in Israel. “The theory goes that once a fetus develops testicles, they secrete testosterone which masculinizes the brain,” she said. “If that were true, there would be two types of brain.”
However, new research claims that that assumption is false. Using brain scans to investigate sex differences between human brains—the first study of its kind—scientists just revealed that most people have a mix of male and female characteristics in their craniums.
Joel and her colleagues analyzed brain scans from 1,400 people aged 13 to 85, searching for variations in the size of brain regions as well as patterns between them. The group identified 29 brain regions that repeatedly appeared to be different sizes across self-identified males and females.
When the group looked a bit closer at each individual brain scan, however, they noted that very few people had all of their sex’s brain features. In fact, those with “all-male” or “all-female” brains made up roughly 0 to 8 percent of all of the samples.
The scientists concluded that male and female brains are not wired differently at all. While sex differences in brain structure do exist when viewed in the aggregate, an individual brain will more than likely have its own unique set of features.
Simply put: “There are not two types of brain,” Joel said. “Most people are in the middle.”
Researchers hope that their findings will encourage others to embrace the idea of gender as a spectrum, instead of separating people into stereotypical binaries.
“This evidence that human brains cannot be categorized into two distinct classes is new, convincing, and somehow radical,” said Anelis Kaiser at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
Sounds like we can safely make up our minds (haha) about that debate. Still, you’ll want to adopt these healthy brain habits for the rest of your life—no matter your gender.