While not every woman is
intuitive or every man handy with tools, neurological scans of young males and
females suggest that – on average – their brains really do develop
The research comes with a
caveat: It doesn't connect the brain-scan findings to the actual ways that
these participants behave in real life. And it only looks at overall
differences among males and females.
Still, the findings
"confirm our intuition that men are predisposed for rapid action, and
women are predisposed to think about how things feel," said Paul Zak,
who's familiar with the study findings.
"This really helps us
understand why men and women are different," added Zak, founding director
of the Centre for Neuro-economics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in
Connectivity in the brain
Researchers Ragini Verma,
an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, and
colleagues used scans to explore the brains of 428 males and 521 females aged 8
The goal was to better
understand the connectivity in the brain, Verma said, and determine if certain
types of wiring are in good shape or like a road "that could be broken or
has a bad rough patch that needs to be covered over."
The study found that, on average,
the brains of men seem to be better equipped to comprehend what people perceive
and how they react to it. Females, on average, appear to be better able to
connect the parts of their brains that handle analysis and intuition.
"It starts when they're
young," Verma said. "It manifests itself when they are
To put the results another
way, "men's brains are biased toward rapid understanding of a situation
and how to respond to it, especially in how to act and move in response to
information," Claremont's Zak said. "Women's brains are biased toward
integrating information with feelings."
The findings suggest the
hormones that begin to kick in during adolescence push the male and female
brains in different directions, he said.
Why the man drives
Why the "It tells us why,
almost always, when men and women are in a car together, the man drives,"
Zak contended. "His brain is biased toward being better at moving a
vehicle along a road and going to the right place, the stereotype of the lost
Also, "women maintain
and value friendships and other relationships better than men do. Men can have
many friends, but on average we are less good at this," Zak said.
Verma, the study co-author,
said the next step in the research is to figure out if people behave
differently depending on how their brains are wired.
The study appears online in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.
For more about the brain,
try Harvard University's Whole Brain Atlas.