Your Brain is not pink or blue. It’s Purple?

According to Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, anyone who goes searching for innate differences between the sexes won’t find them.

“. . . the brain is a unisex organ. We have the exact same structures,” There is absolutely no difference between male and female brains. . . . Male and female brains are not much [more] different from each other than male or female hearts or kidneys.”

Purple Brain by Peggy, not Prince

Eliot said neuroscientists have yet to find a single circuit that’s wired differently between men and women, and that differences between sexes are best explained by nurture, not nature.

“We keep looking for a biological difference, finding it, it inevitably gets discredited, and yet we still seem so eager to find another one,” she said. Eliot blames academia and the media in part for this cycle. Because most scholars know that any small statistical difference between men and women will make headlines, academics, desperate for funding and attention, often focus studies on gender disparities. “You go back to data, analyze it for sex, and if you find a difference, then guess what: You have another paper,” Eliot said.

She said that even scientifically indisputable differences, such as the oft-cited statistic that male brains are 10 percent bigger than female brains, don’t mean anything. All of men’s organs are bigger on average, but that doesn’t mean they function differently.

Eliot said that it’s important to debunk efforts to prove that female brains are different if we want to disrupt current power structures. If scientists and academics were to begin with the premise that men and women are equally capable, their studies would result in radically different conclusions.

A 1970 study that showed men outperformed women 13 to one on the math portion of the SAT was used to explain why there aren’t more women at the top of stem fields. “People said brilliance in math is a male phenomenon,” Eliot said.

“. . .  it turned out women were being discouraged from pursuing STEM. Once more programs were put in place to foster this type of learning, the ratio dropped to 3 to 1, Eliot said, and is now on its way to closing.”



8 comments on “Your Brain is not pink or blue. It’s Purple?

  1. I’m all for proving equality of the sexes, citing scientific reason for legal standards. But, considering that Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 2/3 more female vs. male population, and given that it’s a disease of the brain, it might be valuable to explore this discrepancy. My own limited research suggests that the presence of the gene ApoE-4 suggests a stronger likelihood of developing the disease. It can be present in both sexes. However, some people believe that it’s affected by interaction with estrogen which decreases in most women in later years. Other factors also indicate Alz – obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes especially. Still, something seems to be going on in the brain that promotes Alz more often in women – and sadly, it’s in place about 20 years before it’s spotted.
    OK, now I’m off to eat responsibly and exercise regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon,
      Recent research links Alzheimers to doing poorly in school, and for a while there has been a link with education and Alzheimers. For people of my mother’s generation, men went to school a lot longer than women which could be one of the factors in the difference. There are many environmental factors that affect disease. That said, there may be some sexual differences in the brain that have not yet been uncovered. BTW my mother is 97, going strong, with no Alzheimers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Facts disputed by the population where my mom lived for 9 1/2 years, a residence for those with memory loss, most because of Alzheimer’s. Nearly every single resident was accomplished well above the level of the regular populace: astronaut, physicians, nurses, engineers, professors, lawyers, entrepeneurs, elected officials, artists, an ambassador, military officers, athletes, and coaches. Nearly all of them had advanced degrees and many had been successful in multiple careers. There’s something else going on with Alzheimer’s and it hasn’t yet been determined.

        However, you and your mom are very lucky. I’m sure you know this.


        • Sharon,
          I do know that we are lucky. You are right, we do not know what is going on with Alzheimers. our health system has addressed many illnesses and people are living longer, but many of them get Alzheimers and this is very unfortunate. Alzheimers should be our top priority for research. I am sorry that your mom had to live with it. I have a cousin whose husband has Alzheimers and is in a facility. He too was well educated and accomplished (an author).

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Neuroscience is an important and fascinating subject. I read all that comes my way in that area. However, I thought it was more production of hormones and the make up
    of our DNA that made e.g. Muscles of men and women different and of course
    all the well known differences.
    As to maths and science I heard reports from one school where girls performed
    equal to the boys in maths and science. It would be interesting to know what
    career they choose to continue their studies in though.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. An interesting article Judy and Peggy! And I believe that we should start focusing on ways to debunk the long held notion that men due to them having a larger cranium are smarter than females so that females who see this difference as a genetic advantage that males have over them think that they are stuck and males will always outperform them which is obviously not true.


Leave a Reply to Sharon Bonin-Pratt Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.