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Courtship Chemistry

CR4's only blog that helps you understand the science in human relationships. The pieces written by Chelsey H and HUSH, with some friends along the way, will provide a male/female dynamic that will offer a better understanding of interpersonal relationships, from friendships and family, to romance and marriage. We won't be counseling but we will be offering scientific evidence as to why she plays with her hair when he walks by or why he doesn't like the guy that keeps catching her eye. Join us: we love to read your comments about your own experiences in the dangerous world of relationships.

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The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

Posted March 22, 2012 9:00 AM by cheme_wordsmithy
Pathfinder Tags: behavior brains Gender men thinking women

Men: did you know that the average male's brain is bigger than the average female's? Women: did you know that the average female's brain has more nerve cells and connections?

While both sexes would love to make audacious scientific insinuations from these facts about their intellectual superiority, the truth is that there is no scientific evidence for a smarter or superior gender based on brain composition (sorry guys and gals).

(<-- Credit: Askinyourface.com)

But, there is a lot of social and biological evidence for distinct differences in the brains of men and women in regards to how they think, feel, and relate to others.

--

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The Disclaimer

Before we begin, keep in mind that this discussion is just looking at general trends revealed by studies, but in no way is it intended to push or prove all-encompassing stereotypes of people, or to imply that one gender is superior to the other. Variation between individuals is much more significant than that between genders.

In other words, please take these implications with a grain of salt, not pepper…

With that in mind, here we go.

How Do They Think?

You may have heard that men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti. Or maybe you heard that men think in boxes and women think in webs. But is there science behind this? Let's take a look:

(Credit: Askhealthylife.blogspot.com -->)

Men have an average of 6.5 times more gray matter (thinking brain tissue) than women.

Neuroimaging studies show men tend to be dominantly "left brained" when it comes to performing tasks, meaning the logical/rational side dominates. This may be why men approach communication with a very straightforward "let's fix it" approach.

Being able to compartmentalize helps men to distance themselves from problems and minimize the complexity of a task by seeing its elements as less interconnected. It also means that they may have a harder time multi-tasking and are more prone to belittling or altogether forgetting seemingly unimportant details (selective hearing anyone?).

(Brain scan activity of male and female brains when listening to a John Grisham novel. Credit: Brainsex Matters)

Women have on average 9.5 times as much white matter (connective brain tissue) as men, and they use more of both sides of their brain for thinking. One study indicated that an area of the brain associated with social cognition and interpersonal judgment is proportionally larger in women than men. This may be why women are more apt and aware of their feelings when communicating.

Being able to interconnect helps women to multi-task more easily and also makes them more likely to remember little details about things. It also means that they have more trouble isolating problems, so issues in one area are more likely to affect their performance in other areas.

Moral Judgment

How true is the old stereotype that women are more relational and empathetic and men are more cold and calculating? One study on the brain mechanisms involved in moral sensitivity presented 14 males and 14 females with three sets of pictures (25 morally unpleasant, 25 non-morally unpleasant, and 25 neutral). They were asked to rate whether these images were a moral violation and (if yes) to rate its severity.

Results of the test found that females scored both moral and non-moral pictures with higher levels of violation and severity. Brain scans during the study indicated that men and women used different parts of the brain (and different sides) when subjected to moral stimuli. Questioning after indicated all participants (with one exception) used context, symbols, and intentions to make decisions, but fewer men than women relied also on how the images made them feel.

Tune in next time for part two, which will include, among other things, a discussion about how men and women handle stress.

Sources:

Mind and Behavior - Are There Differences between the Brains of Males and Females

Masters of Healthcare - 10 Big Differences Between Men's and Women's Brains

Bryn Mawr College - Thinking Differently: Differences Between Men and Women

PubMed Central - Gender Differences in Neural Mechanisms Underlying Moral Sensitivity

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#1

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/22/2012 12:01 PM

interesting, waiting for the next parts

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/23/2012 3:12 AM

Iam not bothered bothered about the size or number of nerves in brain but its practical use. Why men are stronger,why men have beards,why most of the scientists/engineers,inventors even cooks are male,in animal kingdom too males are easily distinguishable from females?.

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pnaban
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#2

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/23/2012 12:12 AM

Yees. Until now, grandma and grandpa concurs from practical observations. Go on with the straight engineering talk.

p.s.: grandpa is not cold, but reserved, keeping his own counsel.

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#4

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/23/2012 12:07 PM

Always an interesting subject. And some exposure to research about it, would, I think, help men and women get along better. Although, books dealing with this subject can also be polemic.

I read a book back in the '90s that was interesting to me, which others here might also find interesting. It's entitled, "Brain Sex." The title can be misleading. It deals mainly with hormonal influence on the developing brain as an embryo during pregnancy, and, generally, some of the biochemistry (as understood at the time) of male and female brains. There may be newer, better books that others here might suggest.

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#5

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/23/2012 12:53 PM

Since morality judgment is one of the areas discussed in this article, I just came across this article which is relevant.

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#6

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/24/2012 12:48 AM

Interesting stuff!

Amazing that the gray matter/white matter ratio is so high.

There's a problem with your teaser title, though. It should be 'brainzzzzzz' instead of 'brainsssss' because most readers will interpret more than 1 s as the s sound.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: The Brains of Men and Women - Part 1

03/26/2012 7:44 AM

Haha, you're right. I'll keep the z's in mind for part 2.

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