UCLA scientists have uncovered genetic differences in developing male and female mouse brains that may contribute to the subtle and not so subtle differences between adults of the two genders.
The study, to be published today in the journal Molecular Brain Research, is likely to also apply to humans, its authors said. It might one day provide doctors with a diagnostic test for assigning a gender to children born with ambiguous genitalia.
Neuroscientists know that male and female brains, although far more alike than different, have certain distinctions.
For instance, in human beings a structure called the corpus callosum, which carries communications between the two brain hemispheres, is generally larger in women's brains. Female brains also tend to be more symmetrical. The significance of these and other differences is unclear, but researchers often invoke them to explain men's generally superior performance at spatial reasoning and women's often superior verbal skills.
Men and women, on average, also possess documented differences in certain thinking tasks and in behaviors such as aggression that are thought by many to be biologically rooted.