Making the Future Female

Different But Equal – SEX AND THE BRAIN


I recently reblogged an article from my friend MADD suspicions about male and female brain types.

Click here to have a go at the fun quiz he found.

Also I’ve been reading, laughing and learning psychology from the witty and suave but spiky PinkAgendistStop by if you enjoy perceptive pieces.

I must also mention Dear Kitty.Some blog, Nonviolentconflict and thefreeorg for their intelligent and radical posts – I’ve learned so much in a short time from all three.

And of course other fine blogs I haven’t time to mention now, but will soon.

We all affect each other.

Their posts led me to think about thinking – always fun but a slightly weird experience  as well.

In my more political posts I’m calling for a paradigm shift in human affairs to move from a male-managed world to a female- and child-friendly future.

With cooperation rather than competition as the guiding principle.

No violence. Local organisation of life. Less people.

Women managing human society and reproduction.

No nation states and therefore no armies, weapons of mass destruction and no National Security.

But for this argument to make sense there must be actual differences between the sexes – not just differences we learn in life – but innate differences.

So yesterday I argued that we are all Equal But Different.

The title of this blog is Different But Equal

Let’s look at some differences now and start with brains.

How often have you heard men say, “I just can’t understand women…” or “My wife doesn’t understand me…”

Do women find men equally difficult to understand, or do they, on average, have more empathy and so can work men out?

Is there such a thing as female thinking or awareness? Can there be a ‘male’ type of thinking?

Are men and women more different or more the same?

And what about the brains of homosexual folk?

All interesting questions.

That’s why the relationship between sex differences in the brain and human behaviour is so controversial in psychology and society generally.

If there are real differences between the sexes then the implications are immense.

Recent studies show there are measurable differences in female and male brains.

For instance, there is a difference between sexes in the transcription of a gene pair involved in brain development unique to Homo sapiens.

Consequently female and male brains show differences in internal structure.

One of the main areas studied is the proportion of white matter relative to gray matter.

Gray matter is made up of neuronal cell bodies. The gray matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, and speech.

White matter is the tissue through which messages pass between different areas of gray matter within the nervous system.

So the gray matter can be thought of as the processing areas, while the white matter connects.

Blood flow is also different between women and men, with females able to move blood more quickly to the areas needed and not losing functions in old age as much as males.

There are also differences in the structure and size of certain areas in male and female brains.

Studies found men on average to have larger parietal lobes, responsible for sensory input including spatial sense and navigation.

Women usually have larger Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas, regions that are responsible for language processing.

Postmortem and imaging studies over the past two decades have revealed structural differences in both global structures and sexually-related brain structures between heterosexual and homosexual subjects.

Researcher Simon LeVay showed that parts of hypothalamus related to sexual orientation not gender.

The hypothalamus is an area known to be  involved in sex differences in reproductive behaviour, mediating responses in menstrual cycles in women and the back of the hypothalamus regulates male-typical sexual behaviour.

These results were obtained from postmortem analysis of hypothalamic nuclei of known homosexual subjects compared to heterosexual patients.

The size of the brain’s hemispheres is a sexually dimorphic trait in which men tend to show asymmetry in the volumes of their hemispheres while women show more symmetry.

A recent  study found homosexual men showed hemispheric volumes to be symmetric similar to heterosexual women and homosexual women showed asymmetry in hemispheric volumes as heterosexual men do.

However differences in brain physiology between the sexes and sexual preferences do not lead to differences in intellect.

This points to females and males taking different but equally successful routes to achieve the same outcomes.

Evidence for this was found in a 2004 study finding men and women achieve similar IQ results by utilising different brain regions.

So this suggests there is no singular underlying neuro-anatomical structure for general intelligence.

In simple language, different types of brains work equally well.

So, different but equal.

Equal but different.

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33 responses

  1. All I know is that I am smarter than everyone 😉

    September 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    • Great – is that anyone or everyone together?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      • both. You know I am practically perfect

        September 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      • Nice to hear it.
        I’m perfectly practical.
        Perhaps we should get together and make an epigram?

        September 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      • Indeed. We owe it to the world. 😉

        September 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      • Couldn’t they owe it to us? I’m already broke 😉

        September 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      • Ummm you see my post today. I would love for them to owe me. sigh

        September 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      • I’ll look now – how come I can’t see how to follow you?

        September 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      • It is there. The subscribe button is on the left. Or you can follow through facebook.

        September 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      • Where?
        BTW I saw you reviewed a similar book to me…
        http://dogsharon.com/2012/09/04/book-review-shifty-grades-of-fey-by-billy-spooner/

        September 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      • on the right it says subscribe by email.

        September 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

      • You said ‘left’ last time.
        Shall I turn my back to the monitor so we’re facing the same way?

        September 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      • lol sorry it used to be on the left. I wasn’t wrong I was just looking at it from behind.

        September 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      • Practically perfect

        September 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      • You said ‘left’ last time.
        Shall I turn my back to the monitor so we’re facing the same way?
        Why by email? That’s a bit shit

        September 24, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      • Subscribe by email on right, facebook http://www.facebook.com/ladyornot or twitter @ladyornot1

        Going to read your post

        September 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

      • Okay – I’ll think about my options…

        September 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

  2. Because I use wordpress.org not wordpress.com They do everything funky

    September 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    • Explain please?

      September 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      • Well wordpress has two different sites. They have wordpress.com which is free though you can rent your domain. They also have wordpress.org which is for those of us that wanted to own our domain. Notice, no wordpress.com after my URL? Basically they provide the structure but I proved the domain and the site building. The pros for me are that I can do whatever I want with my site and make it SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. My site turned two months old last Tuesday and I am about to get 1000 hits for just today. This is because google and the other search engines crawl my site. I can also get advertisements on my site too.

        September 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      • .org is a pain and people pay for it- stick with this, it’s much more practical.

        September 24, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      • Cheers mate – that’s good enough for me.
        BTW Sorry if I’ve clumsily posted a link to my brain post on your blog after you’d already been there.
        Doh!

        September 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm

  3. Interesting stuff. Some of the more in depth things confused me slightly but i’ll have another read through. All the best.

    September 25, 2012 at 5:45 am

    • Sorry bout that – I may edit it to make it easier on the eye and brain. My partner skipped some bits and said the same as you. 🙂

      September 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

      • Oh it wasn’t your fault. I just find some of the more technical aspects difficult to understand that was all.

        September 25, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      • But if you don’t then others might not either – been out till now and plan to edit if needed 🙂

        September 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  4. Pingback: Different But Equal – SEX AND THE BRAIN | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues | Scoop.it

  5. You just reminded me of a physiology seminar I attended a year ago. There was this heated debate about how our brains work differently and how it affects our behaviour. The funny part is that the speaker was a woman, and she kept citing her husband and how certain habits of his irritated her.

    September 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    • That is funny – did she think this was due to his brain being different to hers, or that he was just annoying? 😉
      BTW Do you think females and males think differently?
      Your blog title contains ‘girl’ do you think readers would expect different content if it was randomaverageboy?

      September 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

  6. It was because her husband’s brain worked totally different from hers. 😛
    Yes I think so and it is also a medical fact. So if my blog title was “randomaverageboy” , then obviously the content would be different. Guys have different priorities and hence whatever they do or think is totally distinct.

    September 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    • I agree – but some argue men and women are different mainly because of learning to be like that – through socialisation.
      But it’s a mixture of biology and society – don’t you think?
      I’m arguing there are different ways of managing human society – men have run things for some time and look at the shit we’re in.
      So I’m saying it’s time for females to run things.
      That’s why it’s an important point whether there are innate differences between males and females.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

  7. You are right, it is a mixture of biology and society. But I believe it is time for equality. Female empowerment is good, but unless there is equality between the sexes the world can’t run smoothly.

    September 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    • Agree – there’s lots to do 🙂

      September 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

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