The Differences between the Male and Female Brains
The human brain is the most complex and unique organ of the body. This is where people’s thoughts originate. The brain is the control center of the body, and it is responsible for every action and reaction, every feeling and sensation (Philips, 2006).
The brain is the main part of the nervous system, and it is situated within the human skull. It weighs approximately 3 pounds. It is somewhat pinkish in color and it contains billions of nerve cells. These cells are connected to each other, and they control all the mental functions. The nerve cells have tiny nerve fibers which are called myelin, and these nerves form the whitish part of the brain. Those that are not covered with myelin occupy the grayish part. Every aspect of the brain performs different functions that are connected with all the areas of the body (Sousa, 2005) .
It is a common knowledge that men and women are different. Some even go so far as to say that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Aside from the obvious anatomical differences, there are also existing differences in how the male and female brain functions when it comes to their languages, emotions, and actions (Sabbatini, 1997). The purported differences between the central nervous system and the brain functions between the male and female species have been the subject of curiosity among the public, and this growing interest became the source of numerous scientific studies.
For several years, doctors and scientists have researched the differences between the male and female brains. The earlies studies showed that the male brain is larger than that of the female, and this theory has been used by many until now to justify their belief that the male brain is always superior to that of the females. Today, there are still plenty of debates when it comes to this topic (Edmonds, 2009).
Scientific pieces of evidence regarding the differences between the male and female brains have been long known to scientists ever since the modernization of technology manifested. Their initial thought was that the changes were limited to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus which functions to control the sex drive and the appetite. In the year 2001, Harvard researchers discovered that some parts of the brain have different sizes depending on whether the person is a male or female (cited in Edmonds, 2009). Brain size has been commonly associated with intelligence and according to the studies conducted, the part of the frontal lobe which is responsible for solving problems and making decisions are larger in females (Edmonds, 2009).
The most well-known area of difference in the brain of men and women lies in the hypothalamus. The Preoptic area or region of the hypothalamus deals with and controls the mating behavior, and it is no surprise to many that a man’s brain has a larger preoptic area than that of a female (Chudler, 2008). The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus of the hypothalamus is the area which controls the reproduction cycle. In males, this nucleus has a spherical shape while in females, it has an elongated shape. Even at birth, a baby boy’s brain size is comparatively larger than that of a baby girl for an average of about 12 to 20% (Chudler, 2008).
Scientists were also able to prove that men have six times more gray matter in the brain than women do, but women have more white matter. These differences may provide the explanation why men and women think the way they do. Men seem to be more active because they think using gray matter, which is filled with active nerve cells, while women think using mostly the white matter, which is composed mostly of connections between nerve cells. This may explain why women probably are more complicated thinkers than men because of all the connections in their brain (Hotz, 2005). The gray matter is also the place where information is being processed while the white matter deals more with the connections between and among these processing units. According to many, this may be the reason why many males excel in the field of mathematics. Studies also show that the intelligence processing unit in a woman’s brain is located in the frontal lobe while the gray matter, which inspires the males’ intelligence, is distributed all over the brain. This centralized processing unit in females is in line with the findings that injuries affecting the frontal brain are deadlier and more dangerous to them than in males (Pethokoukis, 2005).
When it comes to brain cell numbers, men have four times more brain cells and brain tissues than women, but women have more dendritic brain cell connections. Studies also show that women’s brains have larger and more developed corpus collusum which enables them to transmit data to and from the right and left hemisphere faster than men. Corpus Callosum is the pathway that bridges the right and left cerebral hemisphere. Language is more manifested and dominant in the left hemisphere in men, but many women are able to use both sides when it comes to language and this gives them great advantage because if ever a woman suffers a stroke in the left side of her brain, she may still use the right side for language while men have the tendency to be left-brained and are less likely to recover faster and fully when a stroke occurs (Heyrman, 1995).
The female psyche is very interesting, and figuring a specie as complex and diverse as this one is a challenge of a lifetime. Not many people know this, but the default brain is none other than the female brain, and it will remain as such until and unless it encounters testosterone that will enable it to change structure and formation. The brain of a woman has bigger communication and emotion storage, and it has little for aggression and sexual centers. A doctor commented that these communication and emotion centers are highlighted in females, and as a result, women are held to be better communicators than men (Brizendine, 2006).
Having good relationship is of paramount importance to women, and this quality can manifest as early as adolescence. Many women live in fear of being left behind and abandoned. That is the reason why they go the extra mile to fit in and be a part of a group of friends. They are more focused on maintaining relationships. Even in marriage, many women would endure and stay for the sake of the children (Brizendine, 2006).
Even though several behavioral patterns can be traced back to the size and structure of a brain, most if not all of these structures would not generate the same response they do now without the cause and effect of hormones. There are some women whose behavior can drastically change, making them entirely different people when their estrogen suddenly drops and their progesterone kicks in. Estrogen and progesterone are more than just sex hormones. They are largely responsible for other functions such as cognitive and affective (Brizendine, 2006).
For every stage in the life of a female, there is a corresponding hormonal cocktail. During puberty for instance, the flow of estrogen and progesterone greatly influences the sex drive and the ability to communicate verbally. The hormone called oxytocin, otherwise known as the hormone of trust, plays a huge role in falling in love. A very classic example of how the world experiences the a taste of a woman’s hormones is during menstrual cycles and pregnancy (Brizendine, 2006).
For hundreds of years, the difference between males and females have been defined and interpreted narrowly by both sides without taking a look at it in a scientific perspective. Explaining these differences in the opposite sex using the brain is one way of bridging the gap and approaching the situation in an unbiased and mature perspective. Many scientists and intellectuals alike are still trying to figure out more details about the uniqueness of both species not only for the sake of science but for other important reasons as well. Many authors sold millions of copies about books that help people figure out and understand the interaction between the opposite sex.
It is essential for the members of both the opposite sex to understand and have a knowledge of the different aspects and parts of their brain. Knowing these differences will enable everyone to find ways to deal and communicate more with each other. It is a common knowledge that the mystery about the opposite sex can never be fully unraveled, but putting the pieces of the puzzle together one by one can help people improve relationships in the family, work place, and the community. Failure to acknowledge and recognize these differences may lead to disappointment, but information providing and explaining the uniqueness of both species may lead to compromise and success.
Discovering these details about both sexes may not change the world of science and technology altogether, but it is of paramount importance to achieving a harmonious relationship with the opposite sex and that is a breakthrough in itself.
Brizendine, L. (2006). The Female Brain. New York: Morgan Road Books.
Chudler, E. H. (2008). He brains, she brains. Neuroscience For Kids. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/heshe.html.
Edmonds, M. (2009). Do men and women have different brains? How Stuff Works. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://health.howstuffworks.com/men-women-different-brains1.htm.
Heyrman, H. (1995). Male-Female Brain Differences. Doctor Hugo.com. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://www.doctorhugo.org/brain4.html.
Hotz, R. (2005). Deep, dark secrets of his and her brains. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-brainsex16jun16,0,5806592,full.story.
Pethokoukis, J. (2005). Differences between male and female brains. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/archive/next050121.htm.
Philips, H. (2006). Instant expert: The human brain. New Scientist. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9969-instant-expert-the-human-brain.html.
Sabbatini, R. M. E. (1997). Are there differences between the brains of males and females? Brain ; Mind: Electronic Magazine on Neuroscience. Retrieved June 30, 2009, from http://www.cerebromente.org.br/n11/mente/eisntein/cerebro-homens.html
Sousa, D. A. (2005). How the Brain Learns (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.