A prevalent understanding, particularly in the 1980s, was that boys and girls are born cognitively the same. It was the way parents and society treated them that made them different.
Since then, a preponderance of research has called this belief into question. The majority of today's psychologists agree that some of the differences exhibited by male and female brains are innate.
"We do socialize our boys and girls differently, but the contribution of biology is not zero," said Diane Halpern, a professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College in California, who has been studying cognitive gender differences for 25 years. Halpern was a keynote speaker at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference.