The truth about male and female brains

SINGAPORE - Neuroscientist Philip Tsang debunks three gender-related myths about male and female brains.

Myth 1: Brain size is proportionately linked to intelligence.

Fact: Women's brains are typically 8 per cent smaller than the brains of men, so they are often perceived to be innately less intelligent.

However, this is not true. If absolute brain size were all that mattered, large mammals such as whales and elephants - both of which have larger brains than human beings - would outwit us in terms of intelligence.

Myth 2: Male and female brains are shaped by their respective male and female hormones.

Fact: While men generally have more testosterone and women have more estrogen, the truth is that both sexes have both hormones, which have other functions.

For example, the female brain requires testosterone to develop and maintain libido, while the male brain requires estrogen for normal brain development and sustenance.

Myth 3: Men are naturally better in maths and women are naturally better in verbal tasks.

Fact: This is untrue as the differences seen in such cognitive tests are not a true reflection of innate differences. Instead, other factors come into play, such as the influence of the social environment.

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