Gender Differences in the Brain
Writing in Psychology Today, Gregory Jantz (reference below) describes the four primary differences in male and female brains: processing, chemistry, structure, and activity.
“The differences between male and female brains in these areas show up all over the world, but scientists also have discovered exceptions to every so-called gender rule. You may know some boys who are very sensitive, immensely talkative about feelings, and just generally don’t seem to fit the “boy” way of doing things. As with all gender differences, no one way of doing things is better or worse. The differences listed below are simply generalized differences in typical brain functioning, and it is important to remember that all differences have advantages and disadvantages.
“Male brains utilize nearly seven times more gray matter for activity while female brains utilize nearly ten times more white matter. … This profound brain-processing difference is probably one reason you may have noticed that girls tend to more quickly transition between tasks than boys do. The gray-white matter difference may explain why, in adulthood, females are great multi-taskers, while men excel in highly task-focused projects. …
“Male and female brains process the same neurochemicals but to different degrees and through gender-specific body-brain connections. … In part, because of differences in processing these chemicals, males on average tend to be less inclined to sit still for as long as females and tend to be more physically impulsive and aggressive. Additionally, males process less of the bonding chemical oxytocin than females. Overall, a major takeaway of chemistry differences is to realize that our boys at times need different strategies for stress release than our girls. …
“The right and left hemispheres of the male and female brains are not set up exactly the same way. For instance, females tend to have verbal centers on both sides of the brain, while males tend to have verbal centers on only the left hemisphere. This is a significant difference. Girls tend to use more words when discussing or describing incidence, story, person, object, feeling, or place. Males not only have fewer verbal centers in general but also, often, have less connectivity between their word centers and their memories or feelings. When it comes to discussing feelings and emotions and senses together, girls tend to have an advantage, and they tend to have more interest in talking about these things. …
“Males, in general, are designed a bit differently. Males tend, after reflecting more briefly on an emotive memory, to analyze it somewhat, then move onto the next task. During this process, they may also choose to change course and do something active and unrelated to feelings rather than analyze their feelings at all. Thus, observers may mistakenly believe that boys avoid feelings in comparison to girls or move to problem-solving too quickly.
“These four, natural design differences listed above are just a sample of how males and females think differently. Scientists have discovered approximately 100 gender differences in the brain, and the importance of these differences cannot be overstated. Understanding gender differences from a neurological perspective not only opens the door to greater appreciation of the different genders, it also calls into question how we parent, educate, and support our children from a young age.”
Atlas topic, subject, and course
Gregory Jantz (2014), Brain Differences Between Genders, Psychology Today, 27 February 2014, at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders, accessed 13 March 2017.
Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 13 March 2017.
Image: Gregory Jantz (2014), Brain Differences Between Genders, Psychology Today, 27 February 2014, at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-relationships/201402/brain-differences-between-genders, accessed 13 March 2017.