Education, study and knowledge

Differences in the brains of arts and science students

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It is quite frequent in the faculties to hear jokes about the inability of the students of letters to dealing with mathematical operations, or about the incompetence of engineers when it comes to understanding the story.

They are stereotypes without much rational basis, but it seems that, deep down, they can contain certain truths.

Differences between the "letter" brain and the "science" brain

The Japanese Neuroscience Researcher Hikary takeuchi and his team published a few weeks ago an interesting study on the structural differences between those who study science, comparing them with those who study humanities.


The work of the Japanese team points out that there are several notable differences between the brains of students of scientific university careers and the brains of students in the field of humanities and letters.

The results showed that, while science students have more gray matter in the middle prefrontal cortex, Humanities reported a higher density of the white matter that surrounds the right hippocampus.

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This information could be obtained by examining a total of 491 participants, through an MRI brain scan. The research also controlled for various variables such as age or brain volume. Takeuchi explained these results by framing them in the classical theory of Simon Baron-Cohen on Systematization of Empathy.

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

The 491 research participants underwent neurophysiological examinations and answered various questions. Their cognitive functions were examined, particularly those that were speculated to be strongly linked to the field of study of each one, as well as other cognitive functions of basic control that were presumed little relevant to the field of study.

According to the data provided, this investigation involves the first time the differences between the brain structures of students are examined according to their field of study. The initial hypothesis, which suggested that there were indeed asymmetries, was demonstrated.

The brain of science students resembles that of an autistic person

The brain type of science students was reported as partially coinciding with that of people with conditions typical of the Autistic spectrum: they prefer to systematize events, it is not uncommon to observe some difficulty in language, they are less empathetic and less adept at anticipating and anticipating the thoughts and reactions of the rest.

Letters have brains more focused on empathy

On the other side, humanities and literature students were associated with a more closely linked skill profile empathy, that is, they were better able to identify with other subjects, understand them and show solidarity with they. However, a good number of these students exhibited difficulties in skills such as spatial recognition.

The key could be in the level of testosterone

The research also observed factors such as higher or lower 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 both groups of students.

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

Bibliographic references:

  • Fountain:
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