For the longest time, there's been a natural association of gender with 'male interests/female interests', and that theory has just been bust wide open by a recent study (that came out on Monday) by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study reveals that a brain cannot be categorized into male or female, because the range of factors that separate and distinguish it vary across a wide spectrum of aspects.
Not only does this take down ridiculous, gender-definitive binaries "Girls play with Barbies, boys play with GI Joes," etc, it reassesses the idea of breaking gender norms in the first place, since there clearly seems to be no indicator of a mental inclination for sure.
"Whereas a categorical difference in the genitals has always been acknowledged, the question of how far these categories extend into human biology is still not resolved," say the authors of the study. Often, structural differences in the brain were considered evidence of a brain being "distinctly male or female". But those differences would need to recur—all men would need to have those 'male' structural differences for the brain itself to be considered male.
But when they analysed 1,400 individual MRI scans, a research team head by Daphna Joel, from the University of Tel-Aviv found that the mash-ups were common. This, they claim, is the first study to look at the brain as a whole (instead of in parts and structures) in segments.
"Brains with features that are consistently at one end of the 'maleness-femaleness' continuum are rare," says the study, and as Daphna Joel rightly tells New Scientist Magazine, "We separate girls and boys, men and women all the time. It's wrong, not just politically, but scientifically—everyone is different."