HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Male and Female Brains

This article discusses some interesting research on the differences between the male and female brain and what those differences may mean.   It is an interesting read and the Witelson seems to be quite the fascinating researcher with quite a large collection of human brains.  According to the article,

Witelson is convinced that gender shapes the anatomy of male and female brains in separate but equal ways beginning at birth.

On average, she said, the brains of women and men are neither better nor worse, but they are measurably different.

Men's brains, for instance, are typically bigger — but on the whole, no smarter.

"What is astonishing to me," Witelson said, "is that it is so obvious that there are sex differences in the brain and these are likely to be translated into some cognitive differences, because the brain helps us think and feel and move and act.

"Yet there is a large segment of the population that wants to pretend this is not true."

No one knows how these neural differences between the sexes translate into thought and behavior — whether they might influence the way men and women perceive reality, process information, form judgments and behave socially.

But even at this relatively early stage in exploration of the brain's microanatomy, battle lines between scientists, equal rights activists and educators have formed.

Some activists fear that research like Witelson's could be used to justify discrimination based on gender differences, just as ill-conceived notions of human genetics once influenced laws codifying racial stereotypes about blacks, Asians and Jews.

Thanks to Heather Lutz for bringing this article to my attention.  [bm]

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Tracked on Jun 20, 2005 8:47:19 AM