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Not so fast -- sex differences in the brain are overblown
Association for Psychological Science: Studies showing sex differences in brain structure or patterns of neural activity should be taken with a grain of salt, according to psychological scientist Cordelia Fine. Many times, the results are interpreted in a way to reinforces gender stereotypes.
"People love to speculate about differences between the sexes, and neuroscience has brought a new technology to this pastime. Brain imaging studies are published at a great rate, and some report sex differences in brain structure or patterns of neural activity. But we should be skeptical about reports of brain differences between the sexes, writes psychological scientist Cordelia Fine in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Some of the problems start with the research. The studies Fine came across were often conducted with small numbers of men and women, where the differences seen could have been due to chance. It's very easy and obvious for neuroscientists to compare the sexes by default. But when neuroscientists habitually check for sex differences, some researchers, just by chance, will find statistically significant differences between the two groups—even if there's no real difference between men and women overall.
'A healthy dose of skepticism is required when it comes to reports of sex differences in the brain and what they mean,' says Fine, who is concerned that claims about differences in male and female brains are reinforcing old-fashioned gender stereotypes."