It is a 'myth' that women's brains are wired differently from men's, claims a leading neuroscientist.
A spate of bestselling books promotes the idea that there are structural differences between men's and women's brains.
They include 'The Essential Difference', by Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of psychiatry at Cambridge, which argues that female brains are better at empathising while men's are wired for analysing the physical world.
A more recent bestseller, 'The Female Brain', by Dr Louann Brizendine, an American academic, reaches similar conclusions and suggests that women spend most of their lives on a psychological "roller coaster" controlled mainly by fluctuating hormone levels.
However, Gina Rippon, professor of cognitive neuroimaging at Aston University, sees all such ideas as 'patronising nonsense'.
"There is increasing concern within the neuroscience community about the misinterpretation and abuse of our findings on the links between brain structure and behaviour. This 'neurohype' is designed to support stereotypes and to suggest that there is a major biological and structural difference in the brains of men and women that explains their social roles and status," the London Times quoted her as saying.
"This is nonsense. There may be some very small differences between the genders but the similarities are far, far greater," she added.