Thursday, April 18, 2013
What differences are known to exist between male and female brains?
Research has shown that differences do exit between male and female brains, and the differences are of distinctive ways. Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, Bernard Crespi of Simon Fraser University, and LSE colleague Christopher Badcock have pinpointed two distinctive ways that male and female brains differ (Kanazawa, 2013). The male brain can be characterized by systemizing tendencies and mechanistic thinking, and the female brain can be characterized by empathizing tendencies or mentalistic thinking (Kanazawa, 2013). Systemizing is the drive to explore, analyze, and construct a system (Kanazawa, 2013). Empathizing is the drive to identify another person’s thoughts and emotions, and to respond to those thoughts and emotions with an appropriate emotion (Kanazawa, 2013). All men do not have a strong male brain, and all women do not have a strong female brain, although the average differences between men and women are that men are more likely to have the male brain and women are more likely to have the female brain (Kanazawa, 2013).
As for size, the male brain is 10% to 15% larger than the female brain. As for overall weight, the average weight of male's brain weighs 11-12% more than the average female's brain. Other differences between male and female brains are certain structural differences, which researchers believe may help balance out the overall size differences between males and females. Studies have shown that parts of the frontal lobe, which are responsible for decision-making and problem-solving, and the limbic cortex, which are responsible for regulating emotions, are larger in the brains of women (Edmonds, 2013). In the brains of men the parietal cortex, that is involved in space perception, and the amygdala, that regulates social and sexual behavior are larger (Edmonds, 2013). The male brain have approximately 6.5 times more gray matter than the brain of a female, but the female brain has nearly 10 times more white matter than the brain of male (Edmonds, 2013).
Another difference is that in the brains of a female, neurons are packed in tighter (closer together) than in the brains of a male. Edmonds (2013), "this proximity, in conjunction with speedy connections facilitated by the white matter, is another reason why women's brains work faster" (para. 4). In some female's brains on certain layers of the cortex, there may be as many 12 percent more neurons (responsible for signals coming in and out of the brain) than in the brain of a male (Edmonds, 2013). Although, this does not predict intelligence or IQ scores, which scientists have determined by conducting imaging studies on how women and men think. Further research may determine more differences between male and female brains.
Kanazawa, S. (2013). Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200803/male-brain-vs-female-brain-i-why-do-men-try-figure-out-t-0
Edmonds, M. (2013). How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/men-women-different-brains1.htm