Cliodhna O’Connor writes at LSE’s Impact Blog:
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“Brain Study Confirms Gender Stereotypes”, “Why Men Are Better at Map Reading”, “Women Wired to Multitask”, “Women Crap at Parking” – such were the headlines that hailed the publication of a recent neuroscience study, which claimed to reveal marked differences between the brains of men and women. This study, published in late 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), applied a brain imaging technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging to model the neural connectivity of the brains of 949 young people. Statistical analysis suggested that males showed greater neural connectivity within each brain hemisphere, while female brains demonstrated greater connectivity across hemispheres. Here, apparently, was scientific proof of the fundamentally dichotomous nature of human gender. A storm of media attention ensued.
In many respects, the PNAS paper is emblematic of a renewed interest in neuroscience research on sexual dimorphism – that is, research examining how men’s and women’s brains differ in structure and function.