Patt Morrison for March 22, 2011

Boys’ and girls’ brains – not so different after all

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Photo by Michelly Rall/Getty Images

Children wait on school-grounds.

Conventional wisdom has long had it that boys’ and girls’ brains are significantly different, with girls developing faster than boys, putting the male sex at a disadvantage in school. Perceived disparities between the sexes also are said to be a function of puberty, when boys’ and girls’ brains grow more dissimilar. However, scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health have been mapping young people’s brains for twenty years and are debunking some of these long-held beliefs. They’ve found that their brains differ significantly at age nine, but by the time study participants reached age 22, their brains had grown much more alike, especially in areas of critical thinking. And so, the saying “Men are from Mars; women are from Venus” can go right out the window.


Dr. Jay Giedd, chief of the Unit on Brain Imaging in the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health

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