The Male vs. the Female Brain

Have you ever wondered why you and your partner can walk away from a conversation with completely different understandings of what was discussed? Now there's proof that neither one of you is crazy -- you're just different!

New scientific research has found subtle differences between the brains of men and women. The studies, which include both physical imaging and psychological research, are leading to greater understanding of the differences between the sexes.

While it's not completely clear how the structural differences in male and female brains affect their function, scientists theorize that the most likely impact is upon the way men and women process information.


One difference between men and women's brains is size. Men's brains on average are 10 percent bigger than women's and have 4 percent more cells. But before all you men claim superiority for having a bigger brain, you'll need to know that women's brains contain more nerve cells and cellular connections, which allows their smaller, more compact brains to be more efficient and effective.

Men's brains tend to perform tasks predominantly with the left-side, which is the logical/rational side of the brain. Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains because a woman's brain has a larger corpus callosum, which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemispheres faster than men. While this does not mean that women are more likely to be in their "right mind," it does illuminate why Martians tend to approach communication more often with a task-oriented "let's fix the problem" state of mind, while Venusians tend to be more creative and aware of feelings in their communication style.

Martians performed better on tests requiring mental rotation, which is thought to indicate an innate sense of direction. Women, though, can rely on their stronger memory skills to help them find and remember landmarks. Not to mention that women do not consider it a diminishment of their femininity to stop at a gas station and ask for directions when lost!

However, Venusians' memory skills can be a double-edged sword, as they are more inclined to remember everything a Martian does -- especially when it comes to irritating or hurtful behavior. So the next time you marvel at your partner's ability to remind you again of something problematic you did months ago, know that she's not picking on you; it's just still on her mind!


The other structural difference in men and women's brains is the limbic size, which controls bonding and nesting instincts. Females, on average, have larger deep limbic systems than males. This is why Venusians tend to be more in touch with their feelings and are better able to express them than men. The larger deep limbic system also increases a Venusian's ability to connect and bond with others.

The downside of this is that women are more susceptible to depression, not only because of the larger limbic system, but also because they produce less serotonin than men. Although this could be a factor in the statistic that women attempt suicide three times more often than men, men are three times more likely to be successful at such an attempt. One reason is that men tend to choose more violent and lethal methods, but another reason is that their smaller, deep limbic system contributes to the fact that men are generally less connected to others compared to women.

There are many ramifications to these new findings, from a better understanding of differences to gender-specific medical diagnoses and treatments. At the very least, we can gain a better appreciation for the unique strengths and qualities these subtle brain differences cause. The more men and women understand about our differences, the easier it is to understand each other!

Research information obtained from the Society for Neuroscience and


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