Good read: Sex-trapolation in the Latest Brain Science

Remember that woman brain versus male brain research that got so much attention? Neuroskeptic was one of the firsts to have questions about it, but a lot of other negative reactions came, while many people thought it sounded plausible. One of the best reviews of the actual research was posted by prof Lise Eliot on The Huftington Post. An excerpt:

“To be precise — and isn’t that the point of scientific research? — the statistics in this study show that the average 15-year old boy has larger intra-hemispheric (“blue”) connections than about two-thirds of girls, meaning the same connections in the average girl are actually larger than in one-third of boys. And vice-versa for the “orange” connections.

More importantly, the differences change over time. What the BBC and Wall St. Journal presented as permanent differences between men and women are probably just a snapshot of mid-adolescence. Dr. Verma and colleagues actually found less sex difference in the oldest group (17-22 years old), probably because boys are catching up to girls in brain development at this time.”

Besides analyzing the actual research, Eliot  also examines the ‘Fifty shades of spin’, how did the story became so big and distorted?

“How can the same science journalists who are breathlessly reporting on our amazing, plastic brains, suddenly overlook the role that learning plays in boys’ and girls’ brain development? What about all those countless hours boys spend playing action-packed video games while girls are busy gossiping on Facebook? When it comes to sex differences, science journalists turn all caveman on us and automatically assume that brain wiring differences must be pre-programmed into our X and Y chromosomes.”

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Filed under Myths, Research

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