Turns out it's not just the genitalia that make us different after all. It's all upstairs. That's right. Brain scientists have confirmed what many have believed: men's brains and women's brains are...different! According to the Hannah Hoag's July 19, 2008 New Scientist article, "Sex on the brain," (great title, New Sci editors): "Research is revealing that male and female brains are built from markedly different genetic blueprints, which create numerous anatomical differences."
Whew. I knew there had to be an explanation.
But wait. It gets worse. "[The new findings] are giving neuroscientists something of a headache. Most of what we know about the brain comes from studies of male animals and male human volunteers." Or, as the article pithily points out: "Women are the most common pain sufferers, yet our model for pain research is the male rat." No wonder the naproxyn isn't doing its job today.
If this topic interests you (let me guess - everyone reading?), get your hands on the article or at least read Michael McCarthy's report in The Independent, "Women's brains are different from men's - and here's scientific proof."
A few gems from the New Scientist piece:
- "[P]arts of the frontal lobe, which houses decision-making and problem-solving functions, were proportionally larger in women, as was the limbic cortex, which regulates emotions."
- Women's brains "typically produce about half as much serotonin - a neurotransmitter linked to depression" as men's.
- "But that doesn't mean [men] get an easy ride. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with autism, Tourette's syndrome, dyslexia, stuttering, attention-deficit disorder and early-onset schizophrenia."
The article's "Myths and misconceptions" are priceless too. Paraphrasing:
- Women actually can give directions. Only we do it differently from men, using our hippocampii (is that the plural?), and calling out landmarks.
- Turns out men are not emotional neanderthals after all. They just remember differently from women. Men focus on the gist, while we women focus on the details surrounding, say, a fight, because "[women's] amygdala is tuned to capture them."
- Here's a huge myth-buster: remember those stories a few years back about how women use three times as many words per day as men? Wrong. We both say "16,000 words a day, on average."
- And, if you're worried about women becoming too emotional because of all that estrogen, worry even more because "oestrogen [British spelling] is important to male development in the womb."
You have to pay to download the article if you're not a subscriber but it may prove helpful the next time you and your opposite sex partner are having, how shall I put it, differences. Not that I would know anything about that...