Northwestern University

Oct
1
Mon 1:15 PM

Psychology Colloquium Series: Rethinking sex, brain and gender: From dimorphism to mosaic

When: Monday, October 1, 2018
1:15 PM - 2:30 PM  

Audience: Public

Contact: Andrew Dennewitz   847.467.5027

Group: Department of Psychology

Category: Academic

More Info

Description:

Dr. Daphna Joel, of Tel-Aviv University, will speak at Northwestern as part of the Department of Psychology's Colloquium Series and Women’s Health Research Institute.

Rethinking sex, brain and gender: From dimorphism to mosaic

Abstract:

Findings of average differences between females and males in the structure and function of specific brain regions as well as evidence from in vitro and in vivo studies that sex can affect the structure and function of brain cells, are often interpreted as indicating that the typical male brain is different from the typical female brain. In contrast, I claim that what is typical of both males and females is a brain comprised of a ‘mosaic’ of features, some in the form more common in males and some in the form more common in females. Under this scheme, the brain types typical of females are also typical of males and vice versa, but there are sex differences in the frequency of rare brain mosaics. In my talk I will present data from animal studies that led to the ‘mosaic’ hypothesis; results from an analysis of magnetic resonance images of over 1400 brains that revealed the extent of ‘mosaicism’ in the human brain; and a recent analysis of the structure of over 2100 human brains using several analytical approaches, that demonstrates that the types of brain typical of females are also very common in males and vice versa. These findings have implications for scientific efforts to study the structure and function of the human brain as well as for social debates on long-standing issues such as the desirability of single-sex education and the meaning of sex/gender as a social category.

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