Male and Female Brains Are Different. Should It Matter?

Neuroscientist Larry Cahill on the great ‘neurosexism’ debate

Photo: Jonathan Kitchen/Getty Images

Meghan Daum: Why did you choose to publish in Quillette?

You say in the article that, for decades, neuroscientists — yourself included — used only male research subjects because they assumed females were identical. And since females come with the complicating factor of the hormonal cycle, it’s just simpler to study males. Why was this the case, and what changed?

What kinds of discoveries were made over the past 20 years?

But what would a discovery like that mean in practical terms?

What exactly are you trying to change?

One of the arguments by those who are made nervous about this kind of research is that the information could be twisted or misused for harmful purposes, sort of like how evolutionary psychology can get extrapolated into reductive and sexist conclusions about mating rituals and gender roles. What do you say to that?

Is there a battle between actual scientists and science journalists who may be in thrall to a progressive or woke ideology?

What happens on your own campus? Are you considered controversial?

What’s an example of the kind of evidence for sex differences that your students find surprising?

You write in the Quillette piece that we “should not run wild with implications of sex difference findings for brain function and behavior.” You also “reject the illogical conclusion that sex influences on the brain will mean that women are superior, or that men are superior,” and you say your colleagues agree. Why do you think some people remain so resistant to what really now appears to be the scientific consensus about sex differences in the brain?

Weekly blogger for Medium. Host of @TheUnspeakPod. Author of six books, including The Problem With Everything.

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