Male and Female brain

Are there major or minor structural differences in the Male/Female brains that cause them to think so differently or is it mainly cultural? If there are differences, what are they and what do they do differently?

When you say “think so differently”, I think you’re talking about differing viewpoints, interests, and opinions. If so, then no, they have no biological/physiological basis.

If not, then perhaps you could expand on what you mean by “think so differently”?

The only two things I can think of are different amounts of chemicals and possibly brain size. Sexual stereotypes would be the to major reason for thinking differently.

There is a bundle of nerves called the corpus calossum that connects the hemispheres of the brain and is one of the principal pathways (if not the principal pathway) for communication between them. This tends to be considerably thicker in females. Also, I have read (though not in anything sufficiently authoritative to use as a cite) that EEGs and thermal scans indicate that the female brain shows a more even spread of activity. Or, as one book put it in computer terms, the female brain is wired in parallel, as opposed to the male brain, which is wired in serial.

Which led me to wonder whether there might actually be something to the phenomenon known as “feminine intuition.” That is, that the usual thought patterns are being carried out, but so efficiently that they are not obvious.

Disclaimer: IANAD (merely had one for a father). But I read. A lot. . . .

Another interesting piece of information concerns the language centers of the brain. In Wernicke’s or Broca’s aphasia, the speech centers of the brain are damaged and cease to function properly. In the male brain, damage to either speech area will result in slurred speech, loss of ability to understand others speech, or a similar side effect. In the female brain, you can pretty much wipe out one of these areas, and the brain will still function perfectly (albeit minus a speech center). This shows that (at least in this scenario) the female brain is more resilient than the male brain.

Now wait a second, that’s not true at all! Viewpoints, interests and opinions may not be hardwired by genetics, but there are certainly biological and physiological proclivities unique to each gender. Do I really need to go into all of the cliches about male vs. female tendencies that are traceable to caveman days?


Sorry, but your last sentence begged the answer.


\Rhetor"ical, a. [L. rhetoricus, Gr. ???. See Rhetoric.]

Asked solely to produce an effect (especially to make an assertion) rather than to elicit a reply.

Smartass. :slight_smile:

I don’t question that there are biological gender-based predispositions towards diseases and physical or personality traits. I am saying that there are no biological or physiological causes of my enjoyment of professional and collegiate baseball, my preference for blueberry Bubble Yum bubble gum, and my Communist leanings.

I am, of course, kidding.

I like the grape one best.

Brain development can be influenced by environmental factors, so any such differences between men and women may be both structural and cultural.

Of course there are physiological causes with respect to male/female differences. Or do you think that a male’s attraction to a female is purely culturally based?

Depends on the male – the attracted to a female part, that is (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) One phenomenon I am sure is not culturally based is a woman’s tendency to go clinically insane one to three days per month. I’m pretty sure that has a biological cause…

And furthermore, it’s entirely IMPOSSIBLE to tell the difference between these influences, and thus to answer the question in the OP.

Think about it: If someone loses their sight, the “sight” portion of their brains withers away while areas of the brain that control the other senses become enlarged and show more activity. So environmental factors can and do influence the way the brain develops and behaves.

Since gender based differences in treatment of a human being are present less than 12 seconds after exiting the womb, there is no way to tell whether the differences in brain structure existed to begin with, or wether they are a function of the different cultural norms the separate sexes are faced with.

Occasionally, some dumb ass will try to “justify” a certain gender’s stereotypical behavior by claiming that it’s a function of their natural instincts/brain area differences/genetics. These tend to be ridiculous studies that try to prove a man isn’t ignoring you when you call him from the other room, he just doesn’t HEAR the same as a woman. Said dumb ass will trot out charts of the brain and cat scan studies, all of which amount to this answer to the OP: We have no idea.

Please note that I’m not saying differences in male and female brains don’t exist, only that we don’t know what they are because we can’t sufficiently separate nature from nurture.

Now wait a second, how much contribution could “nurture” possibly make toward gender-related tendencies like differing means of navigation (men tend be directionally orientated while women tend to use landmarks) or the aforementioned differences in neurological makeup? I’ll grant that “nature” probably plays much less of a part than conventional wisdom holds as to differences like scientific versus artistic skills, but for heaven’s sake, things like swaddling a baby in blue vs. pink couldn’t contribute to everything in her/his development. I believe wholeheartedly in gender egalitarianism, but we can level the playing field for the sexes and still acknowledge that there’s some fundamental biological differences in their thought processes.

…and BTW, I was kidding about the clinical insanity. Plus, one could argue that while women are insane 1-3 days per month, men are insane 28-31 days per month. :wink:

As the OP has yet to re-enter this thread to clarify what he meant by “think so differently”, I think it’s wise if we don’t step into a nature-vs.-nurture debate just yet.

shelbo– I am talking about viewpoints, opinions, and interests, examples of which I provided (and you included in your posts). I am talking about personal preferences that are, for lack of a better word, trivial. I am not talking about sexual preferences, which, obviously, have ties to physiology/biology.

Some men tend to be directionally oriented, yes. If it were “all men” or even “most men”, then I would give that greater weight as evidence of there being a biological basis for that difference. But there are probably a great many exceptions to this (my father, mother, and myself included), enough that you couldn’t say that this was a tendency that reliably followed gender lines.

How about this: women tend to prefer romantic comedies, and men tend to prefer action movies. Is there some biological reason why this is so?

On a side note, I do remember hearing a few years ago that although men’s brains tend to be bigger (logical, as they tend to be bigger than women), women’s brains have more folds, which gives them greater brain surface area, as well as greater cell density.

Quick cite: I know that studies have shown that navigational methods do indeed follow tendencies along gender lines.

That I would chalk up to a mixture of biology and cultural indoctrination, and I would say that the latter makes up 70% of the explanation in this case.

Okay, that’s fair enough. But you’re just “chalking it up.” In otherwords, guesstimating how much of the difference you think is biological/physiological, based on your own opinion.

But with regard to your question regarding navigation techniques, the answer is still, “we don’t know.” Boys and girls are steered down seriously different paths during early learning stages, and thus we can never be sure that their differing ways of doing things is biologically based. We can speculate that it MIGHT be. But we can’t prove either theory. I’m not suggesting that different colored blankets caused the difference.

Also, don’t forget to consider WHO does those studies, and what outcomes they’re expecting to have. Differences AMONG women are likely just as great as differences BETWEEN men and women. If you start your study regarding male vs. female film preferences (god, I hate romantic comedies) with the notion in mind that it’s about 70% nurture, your end results will likely show something around 70% nurture. You’ll gather test subjects who fit into your categories, even though tons of women like myself refuse to see any movies that include Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, or Sandra Bullock in the cast. The outcomes of these studies are often predictable based on the original position of the researcher.

We can indeed level the playing field while acknowledging gender-based differences, which clearly exist. However, in all but a small percentage of cases (giving birth, for instance) we can NOT determine what caused those differences.

Female Pilot and “male-type” navigator

I like to think that the man’s brain is larger than the woman’s, but the woman uses it better & so it kinda comes out even.

Women have another set of hormones & wouldn’t those influence how the brain works?