Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Sex, the Brain, and the Pill

August 18th, 2010 by Elizabeth Kissling
Positron emission tomography image of a human brain

Positron emission tomography image of a human brain

Does taking the Pill increase the size of your brain? According to this story in The Daily Mail, you betcha. And it makes women more talkative, too. That’s right – brain scans of 28 women PROVE it.

I know not to take too seriously such headlines in The Daily Mail (there’s a reason my British friends like to call it The Daily Fail), but if that story has you gnashing your teeth, consider this piece from The Guardian to be the antidote:

In fact, there are no major neurological differences between the sexes, says Cordelia Fine in her book Delusions of Gender, which will be published by Icon next month. There may be slight variations in the brains of women and men, added Fine, a researcher at Melbourne University, but the wiring is soft, not hard. “It is flexible, malleable and changeable,” she said.

In short, our intellects are not prisoners of our genders or our genes and those who claim otherwise are merely coating old-fashioned stereotypes with a veneer of scientific credibility. It is a case backed by Lise Eliot, an associate professor based at the Chicago Medical School. “All the mounting evidence indicates these ideas about hard-wired differences between male and female brains are wrong,” she told the Observer.

“Yes, there are basic behavioural differences between the sexes, but we should note that these differences increase with age because our children’s intellectual biases are being exaggerated and intensified by our gendered culture. Children don’t inherit intellectual differences. They learn them. They are a result of what we expect a boy or a girl to be.”

Now adding Delusions of Gender to my reading list; I’ve already read Lise Eliot’s Pink Brain, Blue Brain. (I also heard her present this work at a conference; it’s a very compelling presentation.)


  

2 Responses to “Sex, the Brain, and the Pill”

  1. Lisa says:

    Well, “clearly” that is a “tremendous effect” on their 3.5 million British female brains!
    I love studies that generalize from 28 to 3.5 million. My favorite line from the Daily Mail article: “A previous study concluded that the Pill, taken by millions who are not yet ready to be mothers, makes women broody.”

  2. Lisa says:

    Pardon me, it was half of the 28 women who took the pill! Even better!

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