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The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently' 509

Posted by Soulskill
from the brain-and-brain-what-is-brain dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Research out of the University of Philadelphia concludes there are major differences in the neural pathways in the brains of men and women. Men, they say, are wired more front-to-back, women more side-to-side. 'The results establish that male brains are optimized for intrahemispheric and female brains for interhemispheric communication. The developmental trajectories of males and females separate at a young age, demonstrating wide differences during adolescence and adulthood. The observations suggest that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes.' They propose this may explain why women have been found to be better multitaskers. Of course, this may also have ramifications for what skill and career proclivities each sex exhibits."
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The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently'

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  • by jythie (914043) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:00PM (#45588397)
    There has actually been some rather cool work with brainscans of transgendered people, and often they will show neurological structures indicative of the sex they feel rather then the one their primary and secondary sex characteristics indicate.

    Gay and lesbian generally just show up as whatever cis body they are.
  • Re:Great.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:06PM (#45588465)

    What really gets me is this part, quoted from a neuroscientist:

    We know that there is no such thing as 'hard wiring' when it comes to brain connections. Connections can change throughout life, in response to experience and learning.

    So the brain connections men and women develop from their experiences happen to reflect the roles we tend to nudge men and women into.

    Hmmm.

  • Re:Women in STEM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Psykechan (255694) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:08PM (#45588497)

    "It is what it is" only because we're still getting out of the dark ages where women were being held back. I'm not saying that it will gravitate towards 50 percent and then stay there, but it will certainly change.

    These studies are only trying to explain why there are differences between the sexes. This is news for nerds, stuff that matters. Personally I've always wondered exactly why I've found I could handle multiple projects much more easily than my male co-workers. Just getting a "you're a girl, duh" response is pointless. Back that up with some research and now you're cooking!

    Also, this could also show why a corpus callosotomy [wikipedia.org] can be more problematic for females than males.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:24PM (#45588707) Homepage

    Citation....desired. I really don't mean to be a dick, I am really curious to read more about this. I actually have a few tranny friends and find this pretty interesting. One of the people in their circle of friends actually found out, at somewhere around 40 years old, that desipite being outwardly born male, she actually had ovaries!

    I always find this interesting because I tend to be a bit gender blind. I never really had this strong notion of basic mental differences and ability differences between men and women. As it turns out women I get along with well, including my own wife, tend to identify themselves as tomboys, but, I never really notice or think of them that way.

    so it starts coming down to.... what causes these differences? The brain changes all the time based on what we do. You can find differences in brain connectivity just based on people's activities and lifestyles. So.... is it hormonal? (maybe not if the transgender thing translates to these connections), is it social? (women and men socialize in different groups that tend to do different things, and so, grow different types of connections?)

    another interesting question is when and how this happens. If a transexual is more like their claimed sex than their outwardly visible one.... is that innate? or does that come from years of practice at trying to be the opposite sex?

    One observation I have made is that.... well... I don't like young trannies, they annoy me. What annoys me, and this goes for both MTF and FTM is that (and I am generalizing) they tend to take on a characture of the gender they want to emulate. Some younger, less experienced FTMs tend towards being loud, overtly macho. Likewise MTFs tend towards well... acting like they learned to be a woman from watching Zsa Zsa Gabore (get off my lawn). You kinda get the idea they are overacting, faking it a bit. Its a vibe I don't get at all from older trannies who are more experienced.

    This makes me think.... maybe its in fact acting out our expected social roles that changes the brain in these ways? Or maybe its a feedback loop, a bit of the chicken, a bit of the egg.

  • Re:Oh noooos! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:24PM (#45588715)

    I'm curious whether this difference is caused by by genetics.

    Boys and girls at a young age also learn to dress differently, that doesn't mean it's genetic. Our brains are environmentally influenced to some degree; do we know how much that was found by this study is environmental vs. genetic?

  • by alvinrod (889928) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @05:51PM (#45589059)
    I was also interested and did a quick Google search and found a few different results:

    Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus [endojournals.org]

    White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. [nih.gov]

    It seems as though there are some differences in the brain for transgendered individuals in that areas of their brain are more similar to the gender that they think they are rather than the brain of the gender that typically corresponds with their biological sex. It also appears (at least from these studies) that hormone therapy is not responsible for those changes. There isn't anything to suggest what causes this to occur, so it could be biological or social, but I doubt it would be largely due to social causes as that would seem to imply that people could become far more intelligent simply by acting like a genius. At the same time, I don't think it's genetic (or entirely so) either as it intuitively seems as though being transgendered probably produces a less fit individual as I can't imagine having to cope with your brain telling you that you're in the wrong body for your whole life making life easier, especially if everyone else treats you as though you're insane.

    Simon LeVay also published some similar research about 20 years ago that examined differences in the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men, so some of that research might also provide some insight into what might cause the observed differences.
  • Re:Uh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @06:07PM (#45589271)

    They're hormonal. I don't remember what the BBC series was called, but they put men and women through a series of tests to see which group was better at what. The groups mostly met standard expectations (men better at spacial-visual tasks, women better at communication related tasks) and there was variations within the two groups. Ranking everyone by their sex hormones, everyone lined up no matter the physical sex. Females with higher testosterone scored better than males with lower testosterone on the spacial-visual tasks and those males did better on the other tests.

    Genes are different, but genes control how hormones are released and hormones determine how our structures develop.

  • Re:Oh noooos! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by x0ra (1249540) on Tuesday December 03, 2013 @07:34PM (#45590077)
    Sorry, but I cannot feel anything but utterly patronized by your comment. Asking for a part of the cake is OK, but asking for the whole cake, the baker shop, and the baker is *too much*. Just the same way with unions. It was completely legitimate in the beginning, but now, the system has been perverted and abuse appears. No matter what, any entity which is given power will always wants more and more, even if it mean betraying its original purpose.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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