Size does not always matter, except some claim that men’s willies make a difference when engaged in love-making, whereas bragging about it put some women off and is not considered good gentlemanly etiquette. However, it is a standing joke among the bravest of men that their other half’s have smaller brains. In fact, in this case, size is irrelevant since women perform better in memory tests despite the fact that men do actually have larger brains, experts say. That’s even though men have a higher IQ by nearly 4 points, a study found. The research from the Netherlands was based on MRI scans of almost 900 men and women and found male brains around 14% larger. But experts have previously suggested that women’s brains function more efficiently.
The latest research, led by Erasmus University, found women are less intelligent than men by approximately 3.75 IQ points and do significantly worse in tests of spatial ability. Lead author, Dr Dimitri Van der Linden, said: ‘We found that men’s brains are larger than women’s and our analysis suggests this is the reason for lower average general intelligence across a range of tests. We are aware of previous research suggesting women’s brains are better organised or process information more efficiently, but we did not look at this in our study.’
The study supports the controversial and now broadly forgotten claim by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century, that men’s brains were larger than those of women. (Darwin once reasoned that a wife was ‘better than a dog anyhow and women’s brains were halfway between that of a child and a man.’)
Today’s scientists have MRI scans to calculate brain volume and past studies have agreed that men’s brains are larger. The latest study took scans and cognitive tests from 896 people aged 22-37 as part of the Human Connectome project. Published in the journal Intelligence, the research says men had higher scores on most measures of intelligence, including spatial awareness. Women did better in memory tests including recalling a sequence of 18 pictures, but analysis found this made no difference to their general intelligence.
Brain size in the sexes is hotly debated in the scientific community. Dr Joseph Devlin, head of experimental psychology at University College, London, said: ‘This is a well-researched study but the evidence is not strong enough to prove that larger male brains are more intelligent than smaller female brains, which makes it a leap of faith using a measure of general intelligence which has little basis. Men’s and women’s brains are different and we know spatial navigation is slightly better in men than women, while women tend to have a better vocabulary. But we should be sceptical of claims that men are smarter than women, especially when there is little to no evidence for that and lots of evidence to the contrary.’
Research at the University of California found women’s brains are smaller, but could perform more quickly because of better connection between brain cells. Having interviewed hundreds of women in my own case I believe that women have a higher degree of intelligence when it comes to analysing a question and formulating a response quicker than most men, and they are certainly more efficient when handling a crisis.
Perhaps the smaller size of their brains is more organised, which enables them to move faster. Could it be that it reinforces the view that small can be beautiful?