Men and women ARE wired differently!
So, let’s look at the research and the debate that rages even now!
First…the male brain is about ten percent larger on average, but size doesn't matter here. After all, elephants have brains that are three times larger and have more neurons than humans, but we don't see them doing brain surgery, and it's not just because they don't have fingers.
And we ARE wired differently. The male brain is wired from front to back, with few connections across the two hemispheres. Women, on the other hand, have more wiring from left to right, so the two hemispheres are more interconnected.
Researchers propose that these wiring differences result in men and women having different strengths. So, each is better, on average, than the other in certain respects.
Perhaps that is why we men just want to "get it done," while women like to talk about it as they are "getting it done."
Here are some other findings - and these should surprise no one!
• Men are better at performing single tasks; women at multi-tasking.
• Women are better at social cognition, and verbal abilities.
• Men are better at spatial processing (maps) and sensorimotor speed
• Women are better at fine-motor coordination and retrieving information from long-term memory
• Women are more oriented toward and have better memories of faces; men of things.
• Men are better at visualizing multiple-dimensional shapes in space, at correctly determining angles from the horizontal, at tracking moving objects and at aiming projectiles.
• In finding their way, men rely more on dead reckoning – that is, they determine their position from the direction and distance traveled. Women tend to rely more on landmarks.
Unfortunately, there are also gender-specific tendencies that are not so good.
• Women are more prone to experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Men are more likely to suffer from schizophrenia, dyslexia, and autism and to become alcoholic or drug-dependent.
We know that men and women react differently from an emotional perspective and this may have to do with brain issues. The female brain has greater blood flow in the cingulate gyrus, the part of the brain that's involved in processing emotions, resulting in more intense emotional reactions and stronger emotional memories.
There are also some sex-specific behaviors that seem to come from how we are wired, not learned.
• Female mice have a trait not found in males of protecting their nests from invaders.
• In monkeys, males prefer toys with wheels while females prefer plush toys.
• And human toddlers show a preference for sex-specific toys, before they know they're a gender.
The female brain also has more wiring in the areas that play a role in social cognition and verbal communication. That may be why they're better at empathizing with others, have a better sense of what is happening around them, and are richer in their verbal descriptions.
Because there's less connectivity in the male brain between their verbal centers and their emotions and memories, they're not as effective as communicators. This may be why we have less interest in conversations.
During activities, the male brain uses much more gray matter while the female brain uses more white matter. This difference is believed to account for the greater ability of males to focus on a specific task to the exclusion of what's happening around them, while women are better at switching between tasks.
However, here’s the debate!
Many researchers argue that even if the adult male and female brains are wired differently, it's a huge leap to say that these differences are programmed at birth. There are socio-cultural factors at work.
In fact, brain connections change as a result of experience and learning. When the same signals are processed over and over, those neural networks get stronger, just as muscles or skills develop with usage and practice.
Male and female brains may start out similar but become different over time as boys and girls are treated differently, and for whom there are different expectations. How we're brought up does play a major role in how we act, think, and believe and our brains may adapt accordingly.
A reasonable conclusion is that it's both—there may be neurological differences, but there are also cultural influences. The percent of differences that are neurological verses societal is anybody's guess at this point in time.
This debate is likely to continue for quite some time.
At least that gives researchers something to do.
So, what is the application here?
Take advantage of the differences!
Mary and I are becoming more different as we grow older. However, we are learning to take advantage of those differences. Mary organizes us and I write. I do the single tasks while Mary takes on the projects. I do the food-shopping and Mary arranges the meals. Then we often cook them together.
And we are still learning to be more kind to each other. We have been finding ourselves thanking the other a lot during the stay-at-home pandemic for the small stuff (like making the bed or washing the dishes).
We also give each other a LOT of time and space.
And we are liking each other even more.
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5007.