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Lise Eliot, PhD

Lise Eliot, PhD
Professor of Neuroscience; Executive Chair of Foundational Sciences and Humanities
Bio | Publications | Teaching | Service

Neuroscience Discipline

Stanson Toshok Center for Brain Function and Repair


Dr. Eliot’s research is centered on brain and gender development, especially the role of neuroplasticity in shaping neural circuitry and behavior. She received an A.B. degree magna cum laude in History & Science from Harvard University, a PhD in Cellular Physiology & Biophysics from Columbia University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Division of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine.  

Her studies range from cellular neurophysiology to meta-analyses of brain sex difference and include two highly-praised trade books, What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, and Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps. Through both empirical and scholarly research, Dr. Eliot analyzes the interplay between innate biology, sociocultural factors, and individual experience in molding our brains and behavior across the lifespan.

Bio | Publications | Teaching | Service



Pink Brain Blue Brain Book Cover

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can Do About It. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2009). Also published in Great Britain (One World) and in translation in German (Berlin Verlag), French (Robert Laffont), Japanese (Japan Broadcast Publishing Co.), Chinese (China Machine Press/HZ), Korean (The Book in My Life Co.), Romanian (Editura Trei), Turkish (Pegasus), and Portuguese (Artmed, Brazil). 


What's Going On in There? Book Cover

What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. New York: Bantam (1999). Published in the UK by Penguin Books, under the title Early Intelligence. Also published in German by Berlin Verlag, in Taiwan by Parenting Source Press, in Polish by Harbor Point, in Korean by King Ree Press, in China by Shantou University Press, and as an audio book by Tantor Media.


Selected articles and book chapters

  • Eliot, L., Ahmed, A., Khan, H., Patel, J. Dump the “dimorphism”: Comprehensive synthesis of human brain studies reveals few male-female differences beyond size. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2021 (in press). Preprint doi: 10.31219/
  • Eliot, L. Brain Development and physical aggression: How a small gender difference grows into a violence problem. Current Anthropology (Special Issue, “Toward an Anthropological Understanding of Masculinities, Maleness, and Violence” edited by M. Gutmann, R. Nelson, A. Fuentes). January 2021 (online, ahead of print) doi: 10.1086/711705
  • Eliot, L. Sex/gender differences in the brain and their relationship to behavior. Chapter 5b, pp. 63-79. In F. M. Cheung & D. F. Halpern (Eds.), Cambridge International Handbook on Psychology of Women. Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  • Chen, D., Strang, J.F., Kolbuck, V.D., Rosenthal, S.M., Wallen, K., Waber, D.P., Steinberg, L., Sisk, C.L., Ross, J., Paus, T., Mueller, S.C., McCarthy, M.M., Micevych, P.E., Martin, C.L., Kreukels, B.P.C., Kenworthy, L., Herting, M.M., Herlitz, A., Hebold Haraldsen, I.R.J., Dahl, R., Crone, E.A., Chelune, G.J., Burke, S.M., Berenbaum, S.A., Beltz, A.M., Bakker, J., Eliot, L., Vilain, E., Wallace, G.L., Nelson, E., & Garofalo, R. Consensus parameter: Research methodologies to evaluate neurodevelopmental effects of pubertal suppression in transgender youth. Transgender Health, 5(4): 246-257, 2020.
  • Bad science and the unisex brain (review of Gina Rippon’s The Gendered Brain). Nature, 566:453-54, 2019. Online.
  • Impact of gender-typed toys on children’s neurological development. Chapter 8, pp. 167-188 in Gender Typing of Children’s Toys: Causes, Correlates, and Consequences, Erica S. Weisgram and Lisa M. Dinella, Eds., American Psychological Association, 2018.
  • The dearth of women in tech is nothing to do with testosterone. New Scientist, Issue 3147 (10 October 2017). Online.
  • Meta-analysis reveals a lack of sexual dimorphism in human amygdala volume. NeuroImage, 147:282–294 (2017). With co-authors Dhruv Marwha and Meha Halari. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.12.021  PMID: 27956206 
  • Single-sex schools: Could they harm your child? (21 December 2016).  Online.
  • Sex in context: Limitations of animal studies for addressing human sex/gender neurobehavioral health disparities. Journal of Neuroscience, 36:11823-30 (2016). With co-author Sarah S. Richardson.  doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1391-16.2016  PMID: 27881769
  • The human hippocampus is not sexually-dimorphic: Meta-analysis of structural MRI volumes. NeuroImage 124:350-366 (2016). With co-authors Anh Tan, Wenli Ma, Amit Vira and Dhruv Marwha.  doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.08.050  PMID: 26334947
  • Segregation by sex harms personal and career development. The New York Times, Room for Debate(16 September 2015).  Online.
  • Hardwired for combat? First female Army Ranger graduates prove grit beats gender in military training. Huffington Post (31 August 2015).  Online.
  • Why coeducation matters. The Independent School Magazine Blog (11 May 2015).  Online.
  • Same-sex schools perpetuate notions of difference between men and women. The New York Times, Room for Debate (10 March 2015).  Online.
  • Busy boys and little ladies: How fake brain science has supported gender segregation in schools. Slate (4 December 2014).  Online.
  • Do brain sex differences explain gendered job preferences? Huffington Post (9 September 2014).  Online.
  • Women's hockey and hardwiring, Huffington Post (21 February 2014).  Online.
  • Sex-trapolation in the latest brain science, Huffington Post (30 December 2013).  Online.
  • Should single-sex education be eliminated? The American (10 September 2013).  Online.
  • Gender segregation and civil rights. Huffington Post (6 September 2013).  Online.
  • Why CoEducation Matters. ASCD Inservice Blog (6 March 2013).  Online.
  • Single-Sex Schools: Vive la Différence or Oppression? Letters, Wall Street Journal (25 Oct. 2012).  Online.
  • The case against single-sex schooling. The Washington Post Answer Sheet (4 June 2012), with co-author Rebecca Bigler.  Online.
  • The trouble with sex differences. Neuron, (2011), 72:895-898. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.12.001  PMID: 22196326
  • The feminist case against single-sex schooling. Slate (31 Oct. 2011), with co-author Rebecca Bigler.  Online.
  • The pseudoscience of single-sex schooling. Science, 333:1706-1707 (2011). with co-authors Halpern DF, Bigler RS, Fabes RA, Hanish LD, Hyde J, Liben LS, Martin CL.  doi: 10.1126/science.1205031  PMID: 21940879
  • Single-sex education and the brain. Sex Roles, 69:363-81 (2013).  doi: 10.1007/s11199-011-0037-y
  • The single-sex trick. Slate (15 Dec. 2010), with co-author Diane F. Halpern.  Online.
  • Editorial: Stop the pseudoscience of gender differences in learning. ASCD Inservice Blog (3 Nov. 2010).  Online.
  • The myth of pink & blue brains. Educational Leadership, 68(3): 32-36 (Nov. 2010).  Online.
  • Out with pink and blue: Don't foster the gender divide. New Scientist, Issue 2769, June 19, 2010.  Online.  PDF.
  • The truth about boys and girls (May 2010), Scientific American Mind, 21:22-29 (May-June 2010).  Online.
  • Common ground on gender. Education Week, March 31, 2010, with co-author Richard Whitmire.  Online.
  • Girl Brain, Boy Brain? New work shows just how wrong it is to assume that all gender differences are "hardwired." Scientific American (Sept. 8, 2009).  Online.
  • Gender segregation in schools isn't the answer. USA Today, Aug. 20, 2008, co-authored with Susan McGee Bailey.  Online.
  • Language and the Brain. in Gilkerson L and Klein R (Eds.), Early Development and the Brain: Teaching Resources for Educators, Washington DC: Zero-to-Three Press, 2008, co-authored with Sharon Syc.
BIO | Publications | Teaching | Service


Courses directed by Dr. Eliot:

  • Neurobehavioral Health (MCMS605)
  • Ethics and Regulatory Issues in Biomedical Research (GIGP508)
  • Human Brain Dissection (GNSC505)

Courses in which Dr. Eliot lectures:

  • Medical Neuroscience (HBMS507)
  • Essentials of Clinical Reasoning II (MCUR602)
  • Ethics and Regulatory Issues in Biomedical Research (GIGP508)
  • Neuroscience (Scholl College, PBBS504)
  • Critical Inquiry I (HPTH622)
BIO | Publications | Teaching | Service


  • Director, MD with Distinction in Research Program
  • Institutional Review Board (alternate member)
  • Women in Science and Healthcare (WiSH) Symposium Committee Co-Chair
  • Conflict of Interest Committee
  • Individualized Strategic Enhancement Program
  • Healthcare Disparities and Equity in Medical Education Task Force
  • CMS Faculty Nominations and Awards Council