Differences in the way the brains of men and women are wired helps to explain why men are better at navigating while women can multitask.
It is something that men and women have both long suspected – their brains are wired differently.
New research has confirmed that men’s brains appear to be configured to coordinate actions with their senses.
Women’s brains, however, are set up to have better memories, to find multi-tasking easier and to be better at gauging social situations.
The results seem to help shed light on why men are considered better at things like navigating, parking cars and throwing balls while women are credited with being better at multi-tasking, are more intuitive socially, and tend to remember events like anniversaries.
The study, which analysed the brain structures of nearly 1,000 people, found that men’s brains tend to have more connections within each side of the brain and tend to run between the back and front.
Women on the other hand had more connections between the left and right side of their brain.
The brains of men also contained more nerve fibres, while women had a greater proportion of “grey matter”
The different patterns in the brains of men and women go some way towards explaining the differences in behaviour and skills seen in men and women, according to the researchers.
They claim that greater connectivity within a brain hemisphere, as is seen in men, links the senses to the control of muscles.
More connections between the hemispheres of the brain, like those seen in women, are better for analytical reasoning, social understanding and memory.
Tests on the volunteers taking part showed that women outperformed men in attention tests, remembering faces and words, and social interactions.
Men, however, were better at processing spatial information about their surroundings, controlling their movements and had faster reaction times.
Dr Ragina Verma, one of the researchers behind the study at the University of Pennsylvania, said: “These maps show us a stark difference – and complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others.”
Scientists have been using new types of neuroimaging in a bid to build up new maps, known as connectomes, of how neurons in the brain since 2009.
The latest study, which is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain scans of 949 people aged between eight and 22 years old.
The scientists used a form of brain scan known as diffusion tensor imaging to map neural connections in the brain.
Few differences between the sexes were seen in children younger than 13, the scientists found.
However, they became pronounced in adolescents aged 14 to 17 and older young adults.
One particular brain area, the cerebellum, displayed an opposite wiring pattern, with more connectivity between hemispheres in men and more within hemispheres in women.
Part of the so-called “reptilian” hind-brain, the cerebellum is the most ancient brain region and controls muscle movement, co-ordination, and balance.
“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are,” said Dr. Ruben Gur.
“Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are often sex related.”
By Richard Gray at the Telegraph UK