Couple young adult man and woman love multiple exposure silhouettes;  Shutterstock ID 2366900401;  Purchase Orders: -;  Job: - Client: -;  Other:-

For most of recorded history, men and women have had different social roles, interests, and occupations. Perhaps it was natural to assume that these arose from natural differences in their minds as well as more obvious differences in their bodies. The idea has long been controversial, but now, with ideas about gender changing more rapidly than ever before, the question of whether men’s and women’s brains differ has taken on a deeper edge. This is a divisive issue, even among neuroscientists. Yet, they ultimately go through historical discrimination and gender politics to get to the truth.

Preliminary measurements of skull capacity show that men’s brains are, on average, slightly larger and heavier than women’s brains. Some commentators have said that this “missing 5 ounces” is the key to men’s superior abilities. Indeed, the simple explanation is that larger bodies require more brain tissue to operate—a relationship that is seen across animal species.

Things became more complicated with the advent of brain scanning technology in the 1990s, which suggested sex differences in the size of certain brain regions and structures. These findings were often turned into compelling stories about why, for example, women are on average more empathetic, or why men are more likely to become engineers. However, studies from the early decades of brain scanning research should be taken with a pinch of salt. Liz Elliott at Rosalind Franklin University in Illinois. “When you control for brain size, all claims about volume differences between individual structures…