Brain differences between “literature” and “science” students

It is quite common in colleges to hear jokes about the inability of arts students to develop with mathematical operations, or the incompetence of engineers in understanding history.

These are stereotypes without much rational basis, but it seems that, deep down, they can close some truths..

Differences between the “letter” brain and the “science” brain

Japanese neuroscientist Takeuchi hike and his team published an interesting study a few weeks ago on the structural differences between those who study the sciences and compare them to those who study the humanities.


The Japanese team’s work highlights that there are several notable differences between the brains of undergraduate science students and the brains of students in the humanities and the arts.

The results showed that if science students have more gray matter in the middle prefrontal cortex, those in the humanities report a higher density of white matter surrounding the right hippocampus.

This information could be obtained by examining a total of 491 participants, with a brain MRI. Several variables such as age or brain volume have also been monitored in the research. Takeuchi explained these results by framing them in the classical theory of Simon Baron-Cohen on the systematization of empathy.

Following this model, it has been suggested that subjects who are drawn to impersonal systems are those who tend to enjoy the study of science more. On the other hand, those who are drawn to letters and the humanities correspond to the empathic type.

The 491 research participants underwent neurophysiological examinations and responded to several questionnaires. Their cognitive functions were examined, particularly those that were believed to be strongly related to each person’s field of study, as well as other basic cognitive control functions that were presumed to be of little relevance to the field of study.

Based on the data provided, this research assumes the first time that differences in students’ brain structures are examined based on their field of study. The hypothesis raised at the start, which suggested that asymmetries did exist, has been proven.

The brain of science resembles that of an autistic person

It has been reported that the brain type of science students partially coincided with that of people with autism spectrum disorders: they prefer to systematize events, it is not uncommon to observe language difficulties, they are less empathetic. and less proficient in anticipation. and anticipate the thoughts and reactions of others.

Those with letters have more empathy-focused brains

On the other hand, humanities and humanities students have a skill profile more closely related to empathy, i.e. they were better able to identify, understand and understand. join forces with other materials. However, many of these students they had difficulty in skills such as spatial recognition.

The key could be in the testosterone level

Factors such as more or less presence of fetal testosterone, And it was concluded that this variable played an important role in the development of the hippocampus, marking the difference between the two groups of students.

There is no doubt that this research, pioneering in the analysis of brain differences between students, will be the first in a series to attempt to explain the differences in the brain structure of each profession.

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