Identifying the differences between male and female brains |

Identifying the differences between male and female brains

Jerry Vance

You know there is a difference between men and women. But this particular difference occurs in the brain department.

Gender matters when it comes to the brain. Men have areas of the brain that are larger than women’s; also, there are many structural, chemical and functional brain variations between the sexes.

First of all, there is no scientific evidence that a woman’s brain, although smaller, is inferior to her male counterpart. With that said, here are a few interesting facts that are slowly being revealed by science.

Findings show that the cortex of the brain is bulkier in women than in men. This area of the brain aids higher cognitive functions, language processing and comprehension as well as emotional responses. Men, on the other hand, have larger areas of the parietal cortex involved with space perception and in the amygdala that responds to emotionally arousing information, as in adrenaline flow (hunting, mating, etc.)

The difference in brain function between boys and girls has been noted well before birth. Testing done on day-old infants shows a marked preference toward mechanical stimulus for boys and female facial pictures for the girls. After birth, toys selected by boys relate to cars, balls, etc., and girls tend to reach for dolls.

The sex hormone may explain the anatomical diversity of the fetal brain. So a lot of what we are at birth is decided or greatly influenced by gender.

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Now we come to the age-old problem of men asking for directions. Men navigate differently than women. Women are more likely to navigate via landmarks and left and right, and men go by the sun, estimating distance, space and orientation; east, west, north and south. Placed in the same vehicle, men and women are going to be continually at odds as to which type of brain receptors should be used. (Science still doesn’t have a clue why the male gender refuses to stop and ask directions.)

One other interesting fact is that the memories of men and women differ greatly.

Men activate the right hemisphere of the brain to remember the central aspects of a situation and women activate the left hemisphere that processes the finer details of the situation. This is where you get two sides of the same story and no one remembers correctly.

What we can learn from this continued study into the differences between male and female brains is that treating disease relating to brain function may have a totally different tack depending on gender and how men and women react to types of medications that involve different areas of the brain.

The areas of the brain and how they react to different situations is a fascinating study, and when you include the gender interaction, it becomes even more so.

n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.