Comparing of the Male and Female Brain
In the modern world, the fact that girls and boys have serious differences is widely known. These differences exist in behavior, in the style of intellectual activity, and in emotional reactions to various triggers. The latest achievements have already enabled scientists to make some interesting discoveries in this field. It can explain many differences in human behavior. Although the fact that boys and girls differ is well known, however, the mechanisms underlying these differences are found more deeply in the human body, in the nervous system, and especially in the brain.
How It Works
General Information Regarding Differences
The the question of the differences between genders and their behavior has been researched by the modern scientists. In the first decade of the 21 century, many scientists pointed that different zones of the brain were under the influence of hormones in the process of sexual differentiation, such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 35; Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5). These hormones, acting differently in the body of a man and a woman, also affect the development of the brain in different ways (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 35). The differences between the sexes go beyond sexual dimorphism (Ingalhalikara 6; Joel “Male or Female” 3). Other scientists offered to observe not external differences, formed gradually as a result of the performance of different functions by men and women (Hoffman 1477; Ngun 2). They offered to look on differences at the level of physiology and biochemistry, underlying the difference in behavior. Its background was in the central nervous system (Ngun 2). The researchers found that differences at the brain level could allow males and females to exhibit similar behavior, despite the difference in physiology and hormone work (Cahill “Equal ? The Same” 3).
Environment and the Central Nervous System
The environment is critical in the formation of sexual dimorphism and in the differentiation of the nervous system. The differences in the performance of the hippocampus exhibit thicker branching of the dendrites in the pyramidal neurons of the cerebral cortex and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus of boys comparing with the girls (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). In contrast to females, such differences of boys can be further intensified under the influence of the appropriate stimulation from outside. Thus, it should be agreed with the conclusion that the differences in the size of the dendritic tree of neurons affect the interaction of the organism with the environment, which has a stronger expression in the male sex (Schenck-Gustafsson 5).
Neurological Diseases of Men and Women
The environment is critical in the formation of sexual dimorphism and in the stimulation from outside. Thus, it should be agreed with the conclusion that the differences in the size of the dendritic tree of neurons affect the interaction of the organism. A number of studies have shown that it is sexual differences in the work of the brain and the entire nervous system that lead to the fact that sex affects the risk of a neurological disease (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). First, women have a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s syndrome, and the difference cannot be attributed to only a longer life span (Ngun 3). The degeneration of nerve cells in women always goes faster. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manifests itself differently in women and men (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32; Schenck-Gustafsson 5). There are several disorders, which highlight men sex, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette’s syndrome (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 33). Its background is the overproduction of dopamine during pre-pubertal development. Men, contrasting to women, have such overproduction (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 35).
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Usually the differences in the incidence of mental illness between men and women are manifested otherwise in various age periods (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). In men, such diseases often appear before puberty, while in women they increase sharply, on the contrary, after it. Drugs can influence in a different way due to dopamine, a neurotransmitter of a sense of pleasure. In girls compared to boys, estrogen enhances the release of dopamine and causes long-term effects, which can explain the more rapid development of drug dependence in women (Schenck-Gustafsson 5).
The both representatives have the influence of hormones on the central nervous system. However, serotonin is produced in larger amount in boys comparing to girls, so, the last are more exposed to depression. Some brain anomalies responsible for the development of schizophrenia in men and women are of a different nature (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32). The structures and functions of the brain also show differences in measuring the size of the orbitofrontal cortex, the region of the brain involved in the regulation of emotions, and comparing them with the size of the amygdala responsible for the occurrence of emotional reactions (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). Women have a higher proportion of orbitofrontal cortex and tonsil than in men. However, patients with schizophrenia have a disturbed ratio (Ingalhalikara et al 3). In women with schizophrenia, it is significantly lower than in healthy people, and in men, it is higher compared healthy men (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 37). There is no satisfactory explanation for these facts. However, this demonstrates that both sides suffer from schizophrenia in different ways, and its treatment may require the reference to gender.
The System of Connections in the Brain
Gender differences were found at the level of neuronal connections. The trend of the development of the female brain is the formation of an ever-increasing number of stable links between the distant parts of the brain and different hemispheres (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). The tendency of the development of the male brain is the formation of a complex of close connections between neighboring brain regions and the creation of local neural subnets. Thus, it was possible to show that the work of the brain of women and men had fundamental differences. First of all, the brain of a man is specialized in intralespiric, and a woman's brain refers to interhemispheric connections (Schenck-Gustafsson 5). The dynamics of the appearance of differences between the sexes was also investigated. It turned out that the trajectories of the development of the male and female brain diverged in childhood, but the difference became more evident in adolescence and adulthood (Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5).
Identified features of the brain enable women to simultaneously use the capabilities of both hemispheres of the brain, connecting to solving problems and analytical skills, and intuitive mechanisms (Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5). Thanks to this, women, in particular, have developed better skills of social knowledge and training. The system of connections in the male brain is designed in such a way that it allows a man to have a significant advantage in solving problems of spatial orientation and coordination of actions (Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5).
The General Picture of Stress
Neurophysiological mechanisms of stress demonstrate differences in the processes of formation of traces of memory for disturbing incidents. Larry Cahill showed to the volunteers a series of films containing scenes of violence, and evaluated the activity of their brain (Ingalhalikara et al 3). It was found that the amount of information whose content could be recalled by both sides correlated with the level of activity of the tonsils during their viewing (Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5). However, in some studies, there was an increase in activity of the amygdala only in the right hemisphere of the brain, and in others only in the left hemisphere (Ingalhalikara et al 3). Activation of the right tonsil was in men, the left amygdala was activated only by women. These differences arise from the following theory (Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5). The right brain is engaged in processing information related to the essential aspects of the situation, and the left hemisphere with its smaller details (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 29; Joel “Genetic-gonadal-genitals Sex” 5). If the theory is correct, then drugs that suppress the activity of the amygdala should worsen the ability to remember the essence of exciting events in men and remember their details in women (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 31).
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One of these drugs is the beta-blocker propranolol (Ingalhalikara et al 3). It inhibits the activity of adrenaline and noradrenaline, thus, suppressing the activity of the amygdala and worsening the memory of the exciting events of the past (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32). Larry Cahill gave the drug to male and female subjects, and then showed them a short video. A follow-up survey showed that propranolol had weakened men’s ability to recall the essence of the story (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32). In women, taking medication memory worsened for minor details of the film. Later, Cahill discovered that hemispheric differences in the reactions of men and women to disturbing information appear almost instantaneously (“Sex Influences on Brain” 32). The subjects, who were shown the pictures of unpleasant content, reacted to them only after 300 msec by a short burst of electrical brain activity. In men, it was more pronounced in the right hemisphere of the brain and in women it was in the left hemisphere (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 35). Thus, sex hemispheric differences can be shown only after a small time after perception, long before interpretation of the information (Ingalhalikara et al 3).
Speaking globally, women are more sensitive, they have more developed sense organs. Their hearing is more developed showing the importance of the pleasant words, tone of speech, and music. Their tactile feeling is more developed, they have 10 times more skin receptors sensitive to contact; oxytocin and prolactin (“attachment and embrace” hormones), which increase her need for touch; women’s sense of smell is more accurate, 100 times more sensitive in certain periods of her menstrual cycle (Wu et al. 104). Women’s Vomero Nasal Organ (VNO), the real “6th sense” (chemical organ of relations between people) seems more developed and more clearly perceives pheromones that reflect different emotions, sexual desire, anger, fear, and sadness (Wu et al. 104). If to speak about vision, it is more developed in men. More of all, men’s vision is more eroticized, hence, they show a keen interest and attention to clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, nudity, pornographic magazines. However, women have better visual memory (to recognize faces, forms, objects) (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 37).
Similarities between the Male and Female Brain
The work of the brain can provide all the main functions for the both sex representatives (Wu et al. 5). The large (finite) brain controls all the vital processes occurring in the human body, and it is also the container of all our intellectual abilities. First of all, it human world differs from the animal one by the developed speech and the ability to abstract thinking, the ability to think in moral or logical categories. Only in human consciousness different political, philosophical, theological, artistic, technical, creative ideas can arise. In addition, the brain regulates and coordinates the work of all the muscles of a person (and those with which a person can control the efforts of the will, and those that do not depend on the will of the person, for example, the heart muscle). Muscles receive a series of impulses from the central nervous system, to which the muscles respond with a reduction in a certain strength and duration. Impulses come to the brain from various senses, causing the necessary reactions, for example, turning the head in the direction from which the noise is heard. The reactions to these or those situations are similar. Four factors determine them, habits, circumstances, emotions, and fatigue (Wu et al. 104). Moral or physical exhaustion of the brain leads to the fact that both representatives of gender are unable to think constructively. Thus, some factors hamper the both to develop fruitful thinking and provoke wrong thinking.
If to look at the brain in a section, three different departments can be seen: rational brain, sometimes called the neocortex, the emotional brain, A part of the limbic system, which is also called the ”middle brain”, and primitive brain, also known as the “reptilian brain” (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32). Brain controls the mechanism of “hit or run”, as well as hunger and sexual attraction.
Both sexes have irrationally irrational behavior if they experience fatigue, hunger, fear, or anxiety. Obeying an impulsive desire, they can throw out energy physically or verbally, and also run away from the problem in a panic. This, the mechanism “hit or run” works (Wu et al. 104). People react to the situations without having an ability to think about their behavior. This can explain the ugly scenes when husbands or wives arrange at home when anyone cannot find a toothbrush.
Pros of the primitive and emotional brain for both sides are the following, to act under the influence of emotional or primitive thinking may not always be estimated negatively for both sides. The primitive and emotional part of the brain gives both parties the opportunity to enjoy emotions, to assess situations from the emotional side (Wu et al. 104). This structural unit reduces its activity in both sexes, when rational behavior is dangerous. When it comes to life and death, the primitive brain takes precedence over activity in both sexes. If the time for reasoning is limited, both sexes receive stronger impulses from this structural unit of the brain. The emotional brain helps both sexes appreciate art, get carried away by some ideas, and engage in creativity. People do some actions not for rational reasons, but because they are moved by feelings with the activity of this site (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32).
Advantages of the rational brain can be shown in any situation, with increasing priority of constructive thinking. This part of the brain begins to process data more actively. Moreover, although the rate of inclusion of this part is slower in women, this site is involved more than emotional in such situations for both sexes (Wu et al. 104). Logical reasoning helps to change the view of things and find new solutions. Thus, both sexes involve the elements of the neocortex, responsible for solving problems. This can prevent hyper-reaction and keep from words or actions that will later be judged as irrational. The rational brain will heal from the wrong thinking: this process is the development of regulative thinking (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32).
The RAS (reticular activating system) is a part of the brain responsible for filtering information. The world around people is full of necessary and useless data. Influence of the RAS is decisive in both sexes in the case of exclusion of unnecessary information, the PAC works as a filter and helps a person notice the necessary, useful, relevant and important information (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32) . With the wrong thinking, the brain searches for information to confirm the guesswork.
The General Consequences of the Brain Differences
Men and women use different parts of the brain to solve the same problem. If a man is lost, he will remember the direction of movement and distance traveled, and the woman will refer to the objects (Hoffman et al. 5). Driving the car a man remembers the road by numerical values of distances, and a woman often remembers all the kinds of signs and shop windows. Through differences in relationships, a woman more often remembers everything in detail, a man is sufficient on summarizing thoughts (Bailey 1).
As men quickly perceive information, they respond faster. However, women can perceive several information flows more often, and men are irritated in such conditions. Men are stronger in exact sciences, and women are better given humanitarian. Men think about sex every minute, and women remember about it every couple of days (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32).
Women are more talkative. Such sociability is associated with the above-described work of the pleasure center in the brain. Conversation is akin to orgasm. Moreover, because of the differences described under stress, men and women respond differently to sharp and irritating sounds (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 32). To establish trust, a woman has enough strong embraces for about 20 seconds. Women use almost three times more words during the day as men (Hoffman et al. 2). An interesting fact is that the female brain is heated more efficiently as it consumes more glucose (Cahill “Sex Influences on Brain” 18).
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Both sides like humor, but they perceive it in different ways. Men are more concerned with the fun ending, and women enjoy the subtleties of humor in general, the language of presentation, and they get even more pleasure from the denouement than men. Also, a few more moments of juxtaposition of men and women are worth mentioning. Men have more developed organizational abilities, while women have a weaker ability to recognize the finest intonations (Wu et al. 104). The former also have weaker tactile sensations, but a more erotic vision. Women, as indicated above, better remember any details of the picture.
Strong sex perceives speech with the help of logic, so they hear exactly what is being said, and women, due to structural differences in the brain, connect intuition and emotions. They are more communicative by nature, and their opponents are more aggressively competitive and they express this aggression more often. The weaker sex has a more developed speech and the ability to maintain a lengthy conversation. Both sexes are stronger in cooperation.
There are a lot of similarities in the way how brain works in both representatives of the research. The total structure is the same, the existence of the main functions is similar, and the centers of responsibilities are also alike. However, there is a row of gender differences in the structural organization of cortical connections. Men have better connections within each of the hemispheres, as well as within the majority of the cortical areas, in addition, different structural modules in the cortical areas are clearly delineated. In women, there are more interhemispheric connections; the modular structure is worse developed. At the same time, for the cerebellum, the ratio is opposite: in men, interhemispheric connections are better developed, and the modular organization is weak. These differences in the organization of cortical connections are reflected in the prevalence of different skills in men and women. Men perform better coordinated and accurate actions; the organization of the female brain is focused on fulfilling social tasks. Thus, it can explain a lot of differences in the behavior, which confirms the thesis.