new study of thousands of brains from more than 20 years of
neuroscience research has revealed the structural differences
between male and female brains.
meta-analysis of more than 126 articles published between 1990 and
2013 is the first of its kind to be conducted, and shows that on
average male brains have a total volume that is between eight and 13
per cent larger than that of females.
team from Cambridge University, led by doctoral candidate Amber
Ruigrok and Professors John Suckling and Simon Baron-Cohen from the
Department of Psychiatry, looked at a wide range of demographics,
covering all ages from babies to pensioners to reach their
is the first meta-analysis of sex differences in brain structure and
in this study we summarized all the evidence we could find and tried
to give an overview of what is known from the current literature,”
Ruigrok told The
areas were larger in men, certain areas were larger in women, with a
lot of these differences originating from in the limbic system –
parts of the brain such as the amygdala and the hippocampus.”
Suckling noted that “the sex differences in the limbic system
include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased
sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression.”
new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex
differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions,” he added.
However, the research does not draw any direct links
between brain structure and function, and the team from Cambridge
stressed that the difference in volume does not have direct
implications for the gender bias in psychiatric conditions.
research has shown that the prevalence, age of onset, and
symptomatology of many neurological and psychiatric conditions also differ
between males and females,” said Ruigrok.
research should test whether sex differences in brain structure
underlies skewed sex ratios of neurological and psychiatric
conditions and whether brain differences that characterise such
conditions are caused by the development of typical sex
differences in the brain."