Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It's Not Just Einstein: Study Shows Differences In Male Brain

Date:
December 10, 1999
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered "striking" differences between men and women in a part of the brain linked with ability to estimate time, judge speed, visualize things three-dimensionally and solve mathematical problems. The differences, the researchers say, may underlie well-known trends that vary by sex, such as the fact that more men than women are architects, mathematicians and race-car drivers.

"There's also a grain of truth, revealed through the brain structure, that we think underlies some of the ways people characterize the sexes."

Scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered "striking" differences between men and women in a part of the brain linked with ability to estimate time, judge speed, visualize things three-dimensionally and solve mathematical problems. The differences, the researchers say, may underlie well-known trends that vary by sex, such as the fact that more men than women are architects, mathematicians and race-car drivers.

In a study reported this week in the journal Cerebral Cortex, the researchers show that a brain region called the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) is significantly larger overall in men than in women. The area is part of the cerebral cortex and appears on both sides of the brain, just above ear-level.

Also, there's a symmetry difference, with men having a larger left IPL than right. In women in the study, it's the right IPL that's somewhat larger, though the difference between the two sides of the brain is less obvious than in men, says psychiatrist Godfrey Pearlson, M.D., who headed the project.

"This is the same part of Albert Einstein's brain that was particularly large compared with controls," says Pearlson. "Scientists have noticed this region is also larger in the postmortem brains of other physicists and mathematicians."

In the study, researchers reviewed MRI-scans of the brains of 15 closely matched men and women. They used new computer software created by Hopkins psychiatrist Patrick Barta, M.D., Ph.D. to compare overall IPL volume by gender. The software lets scientists highlight the IPL by "painting" it in on computer images of each subject's brain; it then calculates a highly accurate volume. Researchers also compared IPL volumes on the left and the right sides of the brain. After allowances for men's larger overall head and brain size, men had roughly 6 percent more IPL tissue than women.

"The inferior parietal lobule is far more developed in people than in animals and has evolved relatively recently," says Pearlson. It allows the brain to process information from senses such as vision and touch, and enables the sort of thinking involved in selective attention and perception.

Studies link the right IPL with a working memory of spatial relationships, the ability to sense relationships between body parts and awareness of a person's own affect or feelings. The left IPL, Pearlson says, is more involved in perception, such as judging how fast something is moving, estimating time and having the ability to mentally rotate 3-D figures.

"To say this means men are automatically better at some things than women is a simplification," says Pearlson. "It's easy to find women who are fantastic at math and physics and men who excel in language skills. Only when we look at very large populations and look for slight but significant trends do we see the generalizations. There are plenty of exceptions, but there's also a grain of truth, revealed through the brain structure, that we think underlies some of the ways people characterize the sexes."

Earlier research by Pearlson showed that two crucial language areas in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain were significantly larger in women, perhaps explaining their advantage in language-associated thought.

Other researchers in the study were Melissa Frederikse, M.D., Angela Lu and Elizabeth Aylward, Ph.D. Funding was through the National Institute on Aging.

Related Web Site: http://pni.med.jhu.edu

The study "Sex Differences in the Inferior Parietal Lobule," appeared in Cerebral Cortex, December 1999, vol 9, no 8 Another useful article is "The Exceptional Brain of Albert Einstein," The Lancet, June 19, 1999, vol 353, pp 2149-2153.

--JHMI--

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' news releases are available on an EMBARGOED basis on EurekAlert at http://www.eurekalert.org, Newswise at http://www.newswise.com and from the Office of Communications and Public Affairs' direct e-mail news release service. To enroll, call 410-955-4288 or send e-mail to bsimpkins@jhmi.edu.

On a POST-EMBARGOED basis find them at http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu, Quadnet at http://www.quad-net.com and ScienceDaily at http://www.sciencedaily.com.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "It's Not Just Einstein: Study Shows Differences In Male Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991209161140.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (1999, December 10). It's Not Just Einstein: Study Shows Differences In Male Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991209161140.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "It's Not Just Einstein: Study Shows Differences In Male Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991209161140.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins