Male And Female Brains: Similarities and Differences
Men and Women Think Differently
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.
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
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.
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.
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. :)