[Paleopsych] Ha'va'd Crimson: Pinker on Summers plus articles on sex differences

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Pinker on Summers plus articles on sex differences

    Originally published on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 in the
    News section of The Harvard Crimson.

    PSYCHOANALYSIS Q-and-A: Steven Pinker
    In an e-mail exchange with The Crimson yesterday, Johnstone Professor
    of Psychology Steven Pinker, who teaches the popular spring core class
    "The Human Mind," opined on the latest flap over President Summers'
    comments on women in science.

    CRIMSON: From what psychologists know, is there ample evidence to
    support the hypothesis that a difference in "innate ability" accounts
    for the under-representation of women on science faculties?

    PINKER: First, let's be clear what the hypothesis is--every one of
    Summers' critics has misunderstood it. The hypothesis is, first, that
    the statistical distributions of men's and women's quantitative and
    spatial abilities are not identical--that the average for men may be a
    bit higher than the average for women, and that the variance for men
    might be a bit higher than the variance for women (both implying that
    there would be a slightly higher proportion of men at the high end of
    the scale). It does not mean that all men are better at quantitative
    abilities than all women! That's why it would be immoral and illogical
    to discriminate against individual women even if it were shown that
    some of the statistidcal differences were innate.

    Second, the hypothesis is that differences in abilities might be one
    out of several factors that explain differences in the statistical
    representation of men and women in various professions. It does not
    mean that it is the only factor. Still, if it is one factor, we cannot
    reflexively assume that different statistical representation of men
    and women in science and engineering is itself proof of
    discrimination. Incidentally, another sign that we are dealing with a
    taboo is that when it comes to this issue, ordinarily intelligent
    scientists suddenly lose their ability to think quantitatively and
    warp statistical hypotheses into crude dichotomies.

    As far as the evidence is concerned, I'm not sure what "ample" means,
    but there is certainly enough evidence for the hypothesis to be taken

    For example, quantitative and spatial skills vary within a gender
    according to levels of sex hormones. And in samples of gifted students
    who are given every conceivable encouragement to excel in science and
    math, far more men than women expressed an interest in pursuing
    science and math.

    CRIMSON: Were President Summers' remarks within the pale of legitimate
    academic discourse?

    PINKER: Good grief, shouldn't everything be within the pale of
    legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some
    degree of rigor? That's the difference between a university and a

    CRIMSON: Would it be normal to hear a similar set of hypotheses
    presented and considered at a conference of psychologists?

    PINKER: Some psychologists are still offended by such hypotheses, but
    yes, they could certainly be considered at most major conferences in
    scientific psychology.

    CRIMSON: Finally, did you personally find President Summers' remarks
    (or what you've heard/read of them) to be offensive?

    PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is
    wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is
    "offensive" even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at
    the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without
    providing arguments or evidence, don't get the concept of a university
    or free inquiry.
Today at UCI: Press Releases: 
University of California, Irvine

    Intelligence in men and women is a gray and white matter
    Men and women use different brain areas to achieve similar IQ results,
    UCI study finds
    Irvine, Calif. , January 20, 2005

    While there are essentially no disparities in general intelligence
    between the sexes, a UC Irvine study has found significant differences
    in brain areas where males and females manifest their intelligence.

    The study shows women having more white matter and men more gray
    matter related to intellectual skill, revealing that no single
    neuroanatomical structure determines general intelligence and that
    different types of brain designs are capable of producing equivalent
    intellectual performance.

    "These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different
    types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," said
    Richard Haier, professor of psychology in the Department of Pediatrics
    and longtime human intelligence researcher, who led the study with
    colleagues at UCI and the University of New Mexico. "In addition, by
    pinpointing these gender-based intelligence areas, the study has the
    potential to aid research on dementia and other cognitive-impairment
    diseases in the brain."

    Study results appear on the online version of NeuroImage.

    In general, men have approximately 6.5 times the amount of gray matter
    related to general intelligence than women, and women have nearly 10
    times the amount of white matter related to intelligence than men.
    Gray matter represents information processing centers in the brain,
    and white matter represents the networking of - or connections between
    - these processing centers.

    This, according to Rex Jung, a UNM neuropsychologist and co-author of
    the study, may help to explain why men tend to excel in tasks
    requiring more local processing (like mathematics), while women tend
    to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed
    gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language
    facility. These two very different neurological pathways and activity
    centers, however, result in equivalent overall performance on broad
    measures of cognitive ability, such as those found on intelligence

    The study also identified regional differences with intelligence. For
    example, 84 percent of gray-matter regions and 86 percent of
    white-matter regions involved with intellectual performance in women
    were found in the brain's frontal lobes, compared to 45 percent and
    zero percent for males, respectively. The gray matter driving male
    intellectual performance is distributed throughout more of the brain.

    According to the researchers, this more centralized intelligence
    processing in women is consistent with clinical findings that frontal
    brain injuries can be more detrimental to cognitive performance in
    women than men. Studies such as these, Haier and Jung add, someday may
    help lead to earlier diagnoses of brain disorders in males and
    females, as well as more effective and precise treatment protocols to
    address damage to particular regions in the brain.

    For this study, UCI and UNM combined their respective neuroimaging
    technology and subject pools to study brain morphology with magnetic
    resonance imaging. MRI scanning and cognitive testing involved
    subjects at UCI and UNM. Using a technique called voxel-based
    morphometry, Haier and his UCI colleagues converted these MRI pictures
    into structural brain "maps" that correlated brain tissue volume with

    Dr. Michael T. Alkire and Kevin Head of UCI and Ronald A. Yeo of UNM
    participated in the study, which was supported in part by the National
    Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

    About the University of California, Irvine: The University of
    California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to
    research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is
    among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more
    than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400
    faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County,
    UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

    [38]Frontal views of the human brain. Click on image for comparison
    with men's brains. Frontal views of the human brain. Click on image
    for comparison with men's brains.
    [39]Side views of the human brain. Click on image for comparison with
    women's brains. Side views of the human brain. Click on image for
    comparison with women's brains.

    Tom Vasich
    (949) 824-6455


   37. http://today.uci.edu/news/release_detail.asp?key=1261#top
   38. javascript:openWin('image.asp?section=press_release%E2%84%91_name=050120Haier_fig1_lg.jpg')
   39. javascript:openWin('image.asp?section=press_release%E2%84%91_name=050120Haier_fig2_lg.jpg')
   40. mailto:tmvasich at uci.edu
ScienceDirect - NeuroImage : 
The neuroanatomy of general intelligence: sex matters

    Rapid Communication

    The neuroanatomy of general intelligence: sex matters

    Richard J. Haier[23]^a^, [24]^Corresponding Author Contact Information
    ^, [25]^E-mail The Corresponding Author , Rex E. Jung[26]^b, Ronald A.
    Yeo[27]^c, Kevin Head[28]^a and Michael T. Alkire[29]^d
    ^aDepartment of Pediatrics, University of California, Med. Sci. I,
    B140, Irvine, CA 92697-5000, USA
    ^bDepartment of Neurology and MIND Institute, University of New
    Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
    ^cDepartment of Psychology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
    87131, USA
    ^dDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of California Irvine
    Medical Center, Bldg. 53, 104B, Orange, CA 92868-1350, USA
    Received 21 October 2004;  revised 4 November 2004;  accepted 9
    November 2004.  Available online 16 January 2005.


    We examined the relationship between structural brain variation and
    general intelligence using voxel-based morphometric analysis of MRI
    data in men and women with equivalent IQ scores. Compared to men,
    women show more white matter and fewer gray matter areas related to
    intelligence. In men IQ/gray matter correlations are strongest in
    frontal and parietal lobes (BA 8, 9, 39, 40), whereas the strongest
    correlations in women are in the frontal lobe (BA10) along with
    Broca's area. Men and women apparently achieve similar IQ results with
    different brain regions, suggesting that there is no singular
    underlying neuroanatomical structure to general intelligence and that
    different types of brain designs may manifest equivalent intellectual

    Keywords: Neuroanatomy; General intelligence; Sex

    [30]^Corresponding Author Contact Information Corresponding author.
    Fax: +1 949 854 1989.

    Note to users: The section "Articles in Press" contains peer reviewed
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   23. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#aff1
   24. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#cor1
   25. mailto:rjhaier at uci.edu
   26. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#aff2
   27. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#aff3
   28. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#aff1
   29. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#aff4
   30. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_aset=B-WA-A-W-B-MsSAYVW-UUA-AAUEUVUYZA-AAUZZWAZZA-YDWBBCAUV-B-U&_rdoc=1&_fmt=summary&_udi=B6WNP-4F8BF5H-1&_coverDate=01%2F16%2F2005&_cdi=6968&_orig=search&_st=13&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050264&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=1010281&md5=53c9e09352873e1138427193865946e5#bcor1

BBC NEWS | Health | Bad driving 'linked to hormones'

    Car park
    Parked by a man or a woman?

    Spatial skills such as map reading and parking may be difficult for
    some women because they had too little testosterone in the womb.

    Some men have long held that women are deficient in these skills.

    Scientists from the University of Giessen, Germany, writing in the
    journal Intelligence found a lack of the hormone affects spatial

    Low testosterone levels are also linked to shorter wedding ring
    fingers, they say.

    The research looked at the spatial, numerical and verbal skills of 40
    student volunteers.

    Men do seem to be better at spatial abilities, and women at verbal and
    emotional skills

    Dr Nick Neave, British Psychological Society

    Spatial skill is the ability to assess and orientate shapes and
    spaces. Map reading and parking are spatial skills which men often say
    women lack. Women tend to disagree.

    The researchers also looked at the length of the students' wedding and
    index fingers.

    In women, the two fingers are usually almost equal in length, as
    measured from the crease nearest the palm to the fingertip. In men,
    the ring finger tends to be much longer than the index.

    For one of the spatial tests, volunteers had to tell which of five
    drawings could not be rotated so it looked like the other four.

    The other test involved the ability to think in 3D by mentally
    "unfolding" a complex shape.

    Overall, men achieved higher scores in the tests than women.

    But women with the male pattern of finger length did better than those
    whose wedding finger was shorter.

    They also scored better on the numerical tests.


    Writing in Intelligence, the researchers, led by Dr Petra Kempel, said
    women who had 'male-like' finger length ratio patterns outperformed
    other women.

    They added that the differences seen within the group studied were

    However, the researchers accept that their study was limited because
    only one saliva sample was taken from each person, and no detailed
    account was taken of women's menstrual cycle, which can affect hormone

    Other studies looking at finger length ratio have suggested that, in
    men a long ring finger and symmetrical hands are an indication of
    fertility, and that women are more likely to be fertile if they have a
    longer index finger.

    Another study controversially suggested that finger length ratio could
    also be linked to sexual orientation, with lesbian women having a
    greater difference in length between their ring finger and index
    finger than straight women do.

    Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of
    Northumbria who specialises in spatial awareness and gender

    He said: "Being exposed to testosterone early on does seem to affect
    the way the brain works.

    "It seems to push it to work in a more masculine way, with a stronger
    right hemisphere; the spatial hemisphere.

    "The extra testosterone also appears to cause the ring finger to be
    longer than the index."

    Bones contain testosterone receptors, and Dr Neave said the fourth
    finger appeared to be particularly receptive to levels of the hormone.

    Higher levels are linked the ring finger being longer than the index.

    Dr Neave, a member of the British Psychological Society, added: "The
    sexes do use different skills to find their way around. Men seem to be
    able to keep the route in their head without landmarks, whereas women
    do use them.

    "So men may be better at finding the car when its parked in a huge
    shopping centre car-park. It may also tap into driving and parking

    He added: "Men do seem to be better at spatial abilities, and women at
    verbal and emotional skills.

    "It may be a generalisation, but that does seem to be the case."

    But Dr David Gray of the Department of Philosophy at Harvard
    University, said: "Correlation between genetic features and skills may
    often have an environmental intermediary which determines performance
    at a given skill."

    He suggested skilled drivers may be those who are more practised at
    the activity. In addition, he said people with longer ring fingers may
    have dominating personalities and therefore do more driving.

    "This practice would make them better at these activities and would be
    correlated with a physical feature, but not caused by it."

    [45]Finger length heart attack clue
    22 Oct 01 |  Health
    [46]A finger on sexuality
    29 Mar 00 |  Sci/Tech
    [47]University of Giessen - in German
    [48]British Psychological Society


   45. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1613066.stm
   46. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/695142.stm
   47. http://www.uni-giessen.de/uni/
   48. http://www.bps.org.uk/

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