Women who undergo sex change lose ability to multitask, study finds.

It is a commonly held belief, certainly among the fairer sex, that women are better at multitasking than men.

And scientists have now discovered the ability is so closely linked to gender that women undergoing a sex change start to lose the coveted trait.

Researchers studied the brains of 18 female-to-male transsexuals before and after four weeks of testosterone treatment. They found that qualities more traditionally attributed to women, such as verbal and multitasking skills, diminished, while others increased.

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Exposure to the male hormone reduced the volume of grey matter in the two regions of the brain linked to language processing. At the same time, connections between the two regions became stronger, increasing spatial ability.

Professor Rupert Lanzenberger, from the University of Vienna, said the findings may suggest the difference between male and female brains is "substantially attributable to the effects of circulating sex hormones".