Male and female are two biological sexes of humans, however have you ever wondered what is different in the brain of these two genders? Recent studies aim to find out these differences…
One of the discoveries made by Dr. Nirao Shah (a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California) that there are difference in the ‘behaviours of men and women that are essential so survival’. These differences are said to be innate rather than learned, showing that gender differences must infact stem from the brain.
Another experiment was conducted on rhesus monkeys, through which it was shown that, in relation to which toy they prefer, male rhesus monkeys naturally favoured “wheeled/boyish” toys, whereas the females preferred the “plush/girly” toys. Similar results have been seen in studies on boys any girls between 9-32 months old. At this age, children are far too young to follow gender stereotypes, so there must be another factor to ‘gendered’ preferences apart from social influence.
There have also been a number of experiments conducted that attempt to differentiate between brain patterns in the two sexes. For example, in one experiment males and females had to try and find their way out of a complex virtual labyrinth. In the females, areas of the brain relating to spatial perception, motor control, attention and episodic memory (memories relating to specific experiences) were activated the most. Whereas in the males, the area of the brain related to context-dependant memory was used the most.
In addition to this, another experiment focused on the difference in reaction to threat in the male and female brains by using fMRI to scan brain activity. from this, it was found that ‘adult women had a strong neural response to unambiguous visual threat signals, whereas adult men – and adolescents of both sexes – exhibited a much weaker response.’
Finally, in relation to brain conditions and disorders,it has been found out that brain immune system cells are more active in women, and that women are more likely to be exposed to chronic pain, depression, anxiety and anorexia nervosa. However, more ‘male-biased’ conditions include autism, dyslexia, deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and specific language impairment.
As you can probably tell, there has been a lot of research done by a lot of different researchers in order to truly find out if the brain difference in males and females have an important in role in how the two sexes function. So far, the most important conclusion to arise is that it could be important to give different sexes different healthcare treatments, as their intrinsic differences could make some treatments work better on one type of sex than the other.
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