Male and Female Brains: Similarities and Differences

Updated on March 8, 2018

Men and Women Think Differently

Women...

Do the men in your lives drive you crazy sometimes with their weird logic and bizarre actions? My guess is you don't understand why they won't listen to you when you need to process through an issue. I bet it is frustrating when men just want to give you a quick, seemingly impulsive solution and move on to other things. They don't listen to the details in order to help them form the best solution. They immediately jump to the solution without processing through the details, leading to less-than-perfect results, in your opinion. In addition, you might be frustrated with the way men are able to see visual-spatial things that you don't see at all. They are good at visualizing and manipulating space.

Men...

Do you wish that your female companion would just shut up sometimes? You're probably used to tuning women out. Within the first 30 seconds of the conversation, you're ready to move on to the next topic. You don't understand why women dwell on things, hold grudges, and go on and on and on about an issue. You might also wonder how women can do so many things at once without getting overwhelmed and confused.

Why Do We Annoy Each Other?

Over the last decade, researchers have discovered that male and female brains are extremely similar for the most part, however, there are some structural and chemical differences, albeit relatively minute, that may cause the two genders to get annoyed with one another. The more we understand the way our brains work, the better we may be able to learn to compensate for our differences through understanding and compassion. Some of the facts that have come out of studies include:

  • Females' frontal lobes, which are responsible for problem-solving, are larger than those found in men.
  • Males' amygdalas, which regulate sexual behavior, are larger than those in female brains.
  • Women have ten percent more white matter in their brains. White matter helps connect the different parts of the brain.
  • Men have 6.5 times more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter is associated with information processing.
  • Women have more serotonin receptors. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is very closely related to moods and depression.

These structural and chemical differences are only a small sampling of the factors weighing in on how men and women differ in their actions, behaviors, and feelings. Read on for more details.

Brain Structure ~ Size Does Matter

His Brain

Scientists have found that there are differences in brain size between males and females. In general, men have slightly larger brains than women...and it's not because they simply have bigger heads. For men, their parietal cortices (in charge of space perception), and amygdalas (regulate sexual and social behavior) are larger. This might explain why visual-spacial tasks are easier for men. They tend to be able visually manipulate things in their brains, whereas women tend to need to see spaces and shapes on paper. This might account for the fact that there are more male architects and engineers in the world. The amygdala being larger in men...you can draw your own conclusions on that one.

Men also have more gray matter in their brains, which is full of active neurons. This might explain why there are more men in physically or mentally active professions like airplane pilots, bush guides, race car drivers, and mathematicians. Men tend to be more systematic in their thinking.

Her Brain

In women, brain scans have shown that their frontal lobes (responsible for problem-solving and decision-making) and limbic cortices (regulate emotions) were larger. The limbic cortex is also the area of the brain that processes language, making women more verbal, in general. Often times, women are able to solve problems or make decisions after thinking through the details and gathering the facts. Women's brains simply work differently than their counterparts' do on a day-to-day basis.

Women have neurons that are more tightly packed, allowing faster connections to be made. This might explain why women tend to remember things better than men...the connections they make are much more complex and sophisticated. Women also have more white matter in their brains, which contribute to the connections that are made. This would explain why women are generally better at multi-tasking than men. The complex connections allow them to think of and do things simultaneously. In addition, the female brain has a larger corpus callosum, which is a bundle of nerves that connect emotion and cognition. As a result, women are better with language abilities and rely more heavily on oral or verbal communication. They also tend to have a better time controlling emotions, although they are more emotional.

Brain Chemicals

The biggest difference in the chemical make-up of the male and female brains is the level of seratonin. The female brain secretes much more seratonin than the male which explains why men are more impulsive and fidgety than women. This particular neurotransmitter helps regulate mood and "gut feelings." Oxytocin levels are also higher in a female's brain, allowing her to think more quickly and exhibit more immediate, empathic responses to others who are in pain.

There are also hormonal differences between men and women. Women tend to have more estrogen and progesterone, allowing women to have closer, bonded relationships. Men tend to have more testosterone, which gives them a stronger sex drive and makes them more aggressive, by nature.

Funny, But True!

Is One Brain Better Than The Other?

I would argue that it is good that men and women have different brain structures and chemicals. I think they compliment each other well. We are likely more productive because of these differences. If everyone had the same brain structure and the same brain chemicals, we may not have come as far as we have in life, generally speaking.

The next time your spouse or significant other annoys you, think first about the differences in brain chemistry and structure, and if you are still befuddled by their actions, then go ahead let 'em have it. :)

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Daphne 

        2 weeks ago

        Nice article! Just had one quick question and some different information

        For you, what is the main difference between limbic cortices and amygdalas?

        Also, I've read a lot of research articles and most of them say women have more grey matter (more interconections= multitasking) and men withe matter.

        Regards!

      • profile image

        William Baric 

        19 months ago

        I don't know why, I have the feeling this article was written by a woman. LOL!

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        4 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        @Michael Chisolm - I pulled the information from multiple sources years ago. Much of the information is actually from my observations as well. I have a strong psychology background and have studied gender differences for years. Some of the information was compiled from a stand-up comedian, Paul Solari, and his routine, "Defending the Caveman". Other info was taken from a variety of textbooks and resources.

      • profile image

        Micheal chisholm 

        4 years ago

        Hey Gypsumigirl where did you get you info I am doing a public speech and need a cited source do you have it by any chance and could I get it

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        idigwebsites - thanks for reading my hub. I'm so glad it enlightened you and helped you understand why men and women have difficulties communicating with one another sometimes.

        If both parties are aware of how the other functions, life is usually a lot better. :) Good luck!

      • idigwebsites profile image

        idigwebsites 

        5 years ago from United States

        Now I understand... I mistake my guy's silence as arrogance sometimes, and days after our argument, he seems to be okay with it and is back to his usual business. When I brought the subject of our argument again, he laughed at me and said, "You're still not getting over that yet?" I was hurt and annoyed and proceeded to nag him more, and he would tune out usually... it takes us days before we would be ok again

        Thanks for enlightening me. Now I understand the mental differences between men and women. Up and useful, interesting.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Cindi Gold, for the third time, please stop. AGAIN, nobody approved your comments. They were only seen by you (comment author) and me (hub author) at the time. Hub authors are the ones that approve or deny comments. I denied them all. The only reason you were able to see them was because you authored them. Doesn't mean someone else approved them. Doesn't mean others can see them.

        Again, citing all the information in comment boxes is not the right place. Again, if you want to share your opinion, please write a hub.

        Writing 16 comments within 90 minutes, filled with research studies that side with your opinion and expecting them all to be approved is not the right way to do this. Please stop commenting and clogging up my comments. It is not appropriate to comment that many times while citing all that research.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Cindi Gold, as the author of this hub, approving comments is at my discretion. I never approved your comments, and in fact, deleted them all. Comment boxes are not the right place for you to post your research studies word for word. If you want to share your thoughts about this topic, you might want to write a hub instead. Just cutting and pasting page after page after page of ENTIRE research studies and their findings into my comment boxes is not the way to share your ideas on Hubpages. Again, please stop.

        Thank you.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Cindi Gold, please stop posting your long research studies in my comment boxes. It is extremely inappropriate to post your opinions in such a manner on Hubpages. I have denied and deleted all your comments and reported you to Hubpages authorities. You will need to find a different place to vent your anger. Hubpages is not the place to do so, and definitely not in the manner you have chosen...clogging up my comments on a successful hub.

        Thank you.

        Gypsumgirl

      • profile image

        jonniey wunderkind 

        5 years ago

        Brilliant, just brilliant.

      • gajanis786 profile image

        gajanis786 

        7 years ago

        Awesome hub.....jewels of information.Thanks.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Sam W: Sometimes it is just so true about the two genders not understanding the other. The reverse can also be true to say "I'm only a woman" when trying to understand the actions or beliefs or thoughts of a man. It's good, however, that there are differences. The world might be a scary place if everyone thought the same way. You just see it on a daily basis living with so many women.

        Kathleen D: thank you for reading the hub. you are right in that having different brain structures and chemicals are positive compliments to each other.

        gguy: that's funny...perhaps the same can be found in dog brains...hmmm....I wonder if anyone has investigated that before...do animals have the same differences in their brain make-up like humans do??? Something to ponder...

      • gguy profile image

        gguy 

        7 years ago from new jersey usa

        Yes Gypsumgirl, those of us that live with all Females, (even the dog) soon learn our place! LOL

      • profile image

        Kathleen D.  

        7 years ago

        This was an excellent article, both informaticve and entertaining. We have known for years that men and women have brains that are "wired differently" and this covers that point well. Having different brains definitely helps couples compliment each others thought processes.

      • profile image

        Sam W 

        7 years ago

        Thanks gypsumgirl, hope you are well

        It’s actually a wonderful atmosphere to live in, there’s never a dull moment living with four intelligent and funny women. I do admit I don’t fully understand the complexity of the female mind, and I mean that in a complimentary way, but then I wouldn’t as my girlfriends mother often likes to remind me “I’m only a man” Cheeky, but she is right!

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Wow, Sam W! You are living in a home filled with estrogen. You must be a very patient man. The more you can understand and accept women the way they are, the easier it will be...

        Kudos to you for looking at it all in a positive light!

      • profile image

        Sam W 

        7 years ago

        You’re welcome gypsumgirl. I agree it is a very fascinating subject, the innate differences between the genders. I am currently living with my girlfriend, her mother, sister and her niece! I’ve learned a lot from this, all good I’m glad to say.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        Sam W: Thanks for reading my hub and thanks for the reference. I look forward to getting my hands on that book. I have always been fascinated with gender differences. It helps us better understand each other when we are in relationships.

      • profile image

        Sam W 

        7 years ago

        Great reading gypsumgirl. The most enlightening book I’ve ever read on this subject was called Brainsex, by Anne Moir and David Jessel. It covers the differences between female and male brains from development in the womb through to old age and it expalins everything form girls learning faster, female intuition, why women recover better than men from head injuries and strokes, women’s stronger senses…the list goes on!

      • gguy profile image

        gguy 

        7 years ago from new jersey usa

        Sure, my pleasure, please check out my articles when you get a chance, thanks

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        gguy: Thanks for reading my hub! Interesting tid-bits you bring up, especially the point about the desks facing each other with the women and not the men. I suppose that's aligned with women being more social and verbal than men. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments.

      • gguy profile image

        gguy 

        7 years ago from new jersey usa

        Good article!! I recently read something about when men and women were asked to work in separate groups (one all men), the other all women) the women set up their desks to face each other, the men did not. Women tend to look right in your face when speaking to you, while we consider that to be confrontational

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        BlissfulWriter: Glad you enjoyed this hub and, in particular, the video. Funny, but oh, so true!

      • BlissfulWriter profile image

        BlissfulWriter 

        7 years ago

        That is a hilarious video. Very perceptive description of men and women.

      • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

        gypsumgirl 

        7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

        AbbieWaters ~ thank you for reading my hub and for your comment and insight.

      • AbbieWaters profile image

        AbbieWaters 

        7 years ago from Denver CO

        Neat hub!

        I always like to assume that men and women are basically the same. The differences scientists point out are usually very small in magnitude. Cultural ideas about men and women also shape our scientific research, and the presentation of that research.

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