Male and female brains are different, even in the womb: new study
ST. LOUIS, Missouri, April 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A new scientific study has found that pre-born babies’ brains show significant differences between sexes and thus before any parental or societal conditioning.
In the April 2019 edition of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, an article titled “Sex differences in functional connectivity during fetal brain development” details the authors’ study of 118 unborn babies (70 male, 48 female) between 25.9 and 39.6 weeks gestational age. By looking at 16 distinct networks of the brains, they found differences between male and female fetuses in functional connectivity across gestational age. They concluded, “These observations confirm that sexual dimorphism in functional brain systems emerges during human gestation.”
“Specifically, female fetuses demonstrated long range gestational-age related changes in functional connectivity between subcortical and cortical regions,” the authors reported. “The present study demonstrates for the first time that development of fetal brain FC [functional connectivity] varies with sex,” the researchers wrote. The networks they found in the unborn babies’ brains reveal, they wrote, “building blocks” for brain development later in life. Using MRI scans of unborn babies, the researchers examined the neural connections or F.C. in the various areas of the fetal brain. Connections they found in unborn girls were nearly absent among the boys.
The study concluded, “The differential development of FC over gestation in male and female fetuses likely acts as a precursor to sex-related brain connectivity differences observed across the lifespan. Further, the fetal brain networks observed in the present study likely serve as the building blocks for nascent neonatal, toddler, and adult networks.”
Dr. Leonard Sax, a physician and psychologist, wrote in Psychology Today that the new study is in line with previous studies showing that female infants “have significantly greater brain volume in the prefrontal cortex compared with males.” He wrote that some of the sex differences the researchers found are “truly amazing.” Girls showed differences in the connections in the left cerebellum, for example, as well as other areas of the brain, when compared to boys. The cerebellum lies near the base of the skull and has an important role in motor control. It may also be involved in functions such as attention, language, and the regulation of fear and pleasure responses.
In an interview with CNA, Sax said the importance of the study is that it shows that sexual differences in brain development come before birth. “Exactly what those differences signify is controversial,” he added.
Sax recalled in the Psychology Today article that Professor Judith Butler, a non-scientist, has been celebrated for her idea that “male” and “female” categories are social constructs. He quotes Butler, who says that “because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender creates [sic] the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all.” Butler’s book, Gender Trouble, has been influential for decades among transgenderism advocates, who have argued that sexual differences are conditioned by parents and societal norms. The new study throws the resultant gender theory into doubt, Sax writes, because it focuses on babies before birth and thus before any influence from parents or society.
While transgender advocates attribute gender differences to societal prejudices and norms, for Sax, “girls and boys are different,” according to CNA. Sax believes that “girl” and “boy” are “meaningful categories” that are not a performance or social construct.