Monday, August 07, 2006

The brains of men and women

Joe Garofoli:

Louann Brizendine's feminist ideals were forged in the 1970s, so the UCSF neuropsychiatrist is aware that some parts of her new book, "The Female Brain," sound politically incorrect.

Such as the part about how a financially independent woman may talk about finding a soul mate, but when she meets a prospective mate her brain is subconsciously sizing up his portfolio. Or the part describing the withdrawal pains moms feel when they return to work and can no longer cop a hormonal high from breast-feeding their babies.

Women have come a long way toward equality over the past 50 years, but the Yale-trained Brizendine, 53, says her research indicates that human brains are still wired for Stone Age necessities.

Male and female brains are different in architecture and chemical composition, asserts Brizendine. The sooner women -- and those who love them -- accept and appreciate how those neurological differences shape female behavior, the better we can all get along.

Start with why women prefer to talk about their feelings, while men prefer to meditate on sex.

"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," she writes. Men, however, "have O'Hare Airport as a hub for processing thoughts about sex, where women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes."

Untangling the brain's biological instincts from the influences of everyday life has been the driving passion of Brizendine's life -- and forms the core of her book. "The Female Brain" weaves together more than 1,000 scientific studies from the fields of genetics, molecular neuroscience, fetal and pediatric endocrinology, and neurohormonal development. It is also significantly based on her own clinical work at the Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic, which she founded at UCSF 12 years ago. It is the only psychiatric facility in the country with such a comprehensive focus.

A man's brain may be bigger overall, she writes, but the main hub for emotion and memory formation is larger in a woman's brain, as is the wiring for language and "observing emotion in others." Also, a woman's "neurological reality" is much more deeply affected by hormonal surges that fluctuate throughout her life.

Brizendine uses those differences to explain everything from why teenage girls feverishly swap text messages during class, to why women fake orgasms to why menopausal women leave their husbands.

So the next time parents scold their daughters for excessive text messaging, consider Brizendine's neurological explanation:

"Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl's brain. We're not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It's a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm."

Excerpt: 'The Female Brain'

What is this woman thinking?

Why girls will always be girls

Baby Brain and Mommy Brain — A Dynamic Pas de Deux

Why Girls Will Be Girls

Understanding the female brain

In The Female Brain, UCSF’s Brizendine Describes How Women See the World

The Female Brain Revealed This August

1 Comments:

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Lobo said...

What you think about, what your lookat or perceive, what pleasures you all affect how you develop and what is important to you. If we have a different archetecture in our brains, then they lead us to different directions or just a bit different but down the road the paths are very far apart.

The analogies or examples you give about men's and women's brains are interesting. Men did not train to get there, nor did women. Whether it was evolution or just imprinted from the beginning of time or whatever, that is how we are now and that is how we will act and react. It's stupid for men to get angry that some women get so emotional - men may not know what to do or feel uncomfortable with it but that is how many women are. It is equally stupid for women to get angry at men for thinking of sex so much - that's just the way it goes - we just do, though as we get older it is less. Women say they think of sex too mbut not as often and not as many times throughout the day.

We can control when we express our natural selves and even modify it to some degree but that is who we are, not all of who we are but depending on the fact or person, that is a lot of who we are. Learning to live with each other's difference is the point, not complain about it. It's like complaining that the house gets dirty - it does and that is life. We can try to put rules to make it less dirty or messy or increase our tolerance for mess, but it will get dirty. If you are rich enough you can hire others to clean for you but houses will get dirty - its just a matter of degree.

We should admire and appreciate the difference in our ways of seeing the world. We forget that we are trying to have another person see the world as we do automatically, and appreciate it as we do and mean the same thing to them as it is to us. What a tall order.

We use the same language but it does not mean the same. Assume it does not and do what you must to find out or explain what you mean. Men are simpler to understand but harder to change. If it ain't broke to him, why fix it? is such a guy way. She says its broken but he may not see it that way.

 

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