The study, which was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain scans of 949 people aged between eight and 22. Of the 949, 428 were men. The researchers used a form of brain scan known as ‘diffusion tensor imaging’ to study the structural connections within brains. They found that men tended to have stronger front-to-back circuits and links between perception and action, while women had stronger left-to-right links between reasoning and intuition. The researchers claim there are few differences between the male and female brain in children younger than 13. However, these differences become pronounced between the ages 14 to 17 and in older young adults.
According to the researchers, various psychological tests in the past have often indicated a significant difference between the sexes in the ability to perform various mental tasks. They claim that physical differences between the two sexes in the way the brain is hardwired could play an important role in making men better at spatial tasks involving muscle control, while women are better at verbal tasks involving memory and intuition.
Writing that male brains are optimised for intra-hemispheric and female brains for inter-hemispheric communication, the researchers write in the journal: ‘The developmental trajectories of males and females separate at a young age, demonstrating wide differences during adolescence and adulthood. The observations suggest that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes.’