Research Reveals There's No Such Thing As "Male" or "Female" Brains

December 7th 2015

Diana Crandall

Many people argue that a person's likes and dislikes, personality traits and behaviors often stem from a  biologically-assigned gender. 

But “male brains” and “female brains” aren’t really a thing, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The study, which builds upon already established research, suggests that human brains are actually a continuum of “male-like” and “female-like” features, according to Live Science

How the study was conducted 

In “Sex beyond the genitalia: The human brain mosaic,” the researchers took more than 1,400 magnetic resonance images (MRI) from numerous previous studies and zeroed in on the areas with the “largest gender differences,” Live Science reports

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Of the 169 men and 112 women whose brains were scanned, the researchers found that only six percent of brains were consistent across the board with traditional “male” or “female” characteristics. 


An additional analysis of more than 600 brains from 18-26 year-olds identified 2.4 percent as consistent with “male” or “female” likeliness, Live Science reports. The rest of the brains showed a variety of characteristics that showed a “mishmash” of male and female characteristics.

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What the results show

This study suggests that very few individuals have brain regions are “all male-like” or “all female-like,” according to the Huffington Post. There wasn’t a clear “beginning” and “end point” on the spectrum between male and female, either. 


Based on this growing amount of research, brains, like people, do not fit in the box of one gender or the other.

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"The idea of a unified 'masculine' or 'feminine' personality turns out not to describe real people," said Rebecca Jordan-Young, a professor of women's gender and sexuality studies at Barnard College in New York, according to Discovery News.


"It describes stereotypes to which we constantly compare ourselves and each other, but more people are 'gender non-conforming' than we generally realize," she told Live Science.