[In the past, studying sex-based differences in the brain] was not a universally popular idea. The neuroscience community had largely considered any observed sex-associated differences in cognition and behavior in humans to be due to the effects of cultural influences.
[But according to Diane Halpern, a professor emerita of psychology at Claremont McKenna College,] there is too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore.
For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable.
But why are men’s and women’s brains different? One big reason is that, for much of their lifetimes, women and men have different fuel additives running through their tanks: the sex-steroid hormones.
Scientists also routinely acknowledge that the presence or absence of a single DNA base pair can make a medically important difference. What about an entire chromosome? Every cell in a man’s body (including his brain) has a slightly different set of functioning sex-chromosome genes from those operating in a woman’s.
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