Male Brains slightly larger than Female Brains [but not proportionately]

Mark James mrj at cs.usyd.edu.au
Mon Aug 4 02:17:54 EST 1997


Howard Olson wrote:

> First of all, the brains of men and women are comparable when you
> consider the  body size to brain size ratio. This is a well known fact
> of paleoneurology.

Steve Barnard wrote:

> It's also recently been determined that men's brains have more neurons
> that womens's -- something like four billion more, give or take a few.
> 
> So what?

I'm not sure that the recent research showed the men have more
neurons than women; simply that men have more brain cells than
women, which may just mean more glial cells (padding? ;-)).
[Could someone provide a reference for the article in question.]

In my opinion the cognitive consequences of men having more
neurons than women would be an increased memory capacity rather
than any increased processing abilities.  For example, elephants
have enormous brains, giving them a high storage capacity, yet
they lack the neural architecture (pattern of cortical areas)
that would support sophisticated use of language, or development
of a complex personality.

I don't think the greater size of men's brains can be explained 
by the need for more/larger motor and somatosensory neurons to
compensate for the greater body size. What is the current
paleoneurological theory for the size of brains: consuming no
more than a given proportion of the body's energy?

In any case, things like the corpus callosum and the language
areas in the superior temporal lobe have been shown to be
larger in women (on average of course).

-- 
Mark James                                  |EMAIL : mrj at cs.usyd.edu.au|
Basser Department of Computer Science, F09  |PHONE : +61-2-351-3423    |
The University of Sydney NSW 2006 AUSTRALIA |FAX   : +61-2-351-3838    |
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