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A new study has revealed that sex does affect the brain.

Cambridge University researchers have confirmed what many have long suspected, that the male and female brains are very different.

Twenty years of neuroscience research enabled them to create a map showing just how the sexes differ.

“For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females,” Amber Ruigrok, who led the study, said.

This brain, shown from above and below, shows the differences in grey matter volume. Areas of larger volumes in women are in red and areas of larger volume in men are in blue. Photo: University of Cambridge

“We should no longer ignore sex in neuroscience research, especially when investigating psychiatric conditions that are more prevalent in either males or females.”

The research, published this week in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, looked at 218 different studies.

It found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women, by 8-13%.

The results of the study could have major implications for research into autism and depression.

“The sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression,” Professor Suckling, one of the team leaders, said.

“This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions.”