By Robert Bazell, NBC News Chief science correspondent
That men and women behave differently is well known. The idea that there are fundamental differences in the brains between the sexes is something many people assume to be true. Thousands of articles and hundreds of books on the subject have appeared. But there are far fewer differences and far less evidence than popular culture would have you believe.
It takes a highly skilled anatomist to know whether a brain removed at autopsy comes from a man or a woman – the differences are that slight. Many papers report an experiment that purports to show a difference between the behavior of male and female brains, and those often make news because there is so much interest in the subject. But often subsequent attempts to repeat the experiment fail and those do not make news.
Tonight we report on one experiment that has been repeated often enough by some many researchers that it is highly believable. When it comes to storing emotionally-rich memories women's brain place the memory in a part where emotions and details remain intertwined. For men the emotions get separated so the recall often becomes "just the facts". This makes for some amusing scenarios like the couple we show with differing memories of their wedding day. But it could also have medical applications. Women suffer almost twice as much depression as men. This difference in brain function could account for that and someday suggest better treatments.