Sex Differences in the Human Corpus Callosum: Myth or Reality?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Douglas Wahlsten, Visiting Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: It has been claimed that the human corpus callosum shows sex differences, and in particular that the splenium (the posterior portion) is larger in women than in men. Data collected before 1910 from cadavers indicate that, on average, males have larger brains than females and that the average size of their corpus callosum is larger. A meta-analysis of 49 studies published since 1980 reveals no significant sex difference in the size or shape of the splenium of the corpus callosum, whether or not an appropriate adjustment is made for brain size using analysis of covariance or linear regression. It is argued that a simple ratio of corpus callosum size to whole brain size is not an appropriate way to analyse the data and can create a false impression of a sex difference in the corpus callosum. The recent studies, most of which used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), confirm the earlier findings of larger average brain size and overall corpus callosum size for males. The widespread belief that women have a larger splenium than men and consequently think differently is untenable. Causes of and means to avoid such a false impression in future research are discussed.

Additional Information

Publication
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 1997, 21, 581-601.
Language: English
Date: 1997
Keywords
Allometry, Brain size, Effect size, Literature review, Meta-analysis, Morphometry, Ratio measures, Statistical power