You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Gender stereotypes leaves imprint on human brains: Study

Topics
Health Medical Pharma

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Society's expectations about gender roles alter the human brain at the cellular level, scientists say.

Though the terms 'sex' and 'gender' are often used interchangeably by the average person, for neuroscientists, they mean different things, according to Nancy Forger, a professor at Georgia State University in the US.

"We are just starting to understand and study the ways in which gender identity, rather than sex, may cause the brain to differ in males and females," said Forger.

Sex is based on biological factors such as sex chromosomes and reproductive organs," whereas gender has a social component and involves expectations and behaviours based on an individual's perceived sex, researchers said.

These behaviours and expectations around gender identity can be seen in "epigenetic marks" in the brain, which drive biological functions and features as diverse as memory, development and disease susceptibility.

Forger said that epigenetic marks help determine which genes are expressed and are sometimes passed on from cell to cell as they divide. They also can be passed down from one generation to the next, she added.

"While we are accustomed to thinking about differences between the brains of males and females, we are much less used to thinking about the biological implications of gender identity," Forger said in a statement.

"There is now sufficient evidence to suggest that an epigenetic imprint for gender is a logical conclusion. It would be strange if this were not the case, because all environmental influences of any importance can epigenetically change the brain," he said.

Scientists reviewed previous studies of epigenetics and sexual differentiation in rodents, along with new studies in which gendered experiences among humans have also been associated with changes in the brain.

"Given our lifetimes of layered gendered experiences, and their inevitable, iterative interactions with sex, it may never be possible to completely disentangle the effects of sex and gender on the human brain," Forger said.

"We can start, however, by including gender in our thinking any time a difference between the brain functioning of men and women is reported," she added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Sun, April 21 2019. 15:45 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU