Men have bigger brains than women
Meta-study of articles published between 1990 and 2013 reveals major
differences in parts of the brain that control emotions
An overview of average regional sex differences in grey
matter volume. Areas of larger volumes in
women are in red and areas of larger volume in men are in
A new study of thousands of brains from more than 20 years of
neuroscience research has revealed the structural differences between
male and female brains.
The 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
percent larger than that of females.
The 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 conclusions.
"This is the first meta-analysis of sex differences in brain
structure and in this study we summarised all the evidence we could find
and tried to give an overview of what is known from the current
literature," Ruigrok told The Independent.
"Certain 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."
Professor 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." "This 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."Previous research has shown that the
prevalence, age of onset, and symptomatology of many neurological and
psychiatric conditions also differ between males and females," said
"Future 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 Independent