Male Brain vs. Female Brain

By Rebecca Nelles, eHow Contributing Writer

Women and men have numerous differences, some of which can be nice or comforting to discover, others that can be frustrating or annoying to contend with. It appears that many of these differences, everything from the upbeat dispositions of men to the maternal instincts of women, can be explained by differences between the male and the female brains.

Talking

1.According to Laura Schaefer, author of “Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time,” the parts of the brain responsible for humans’ ability to understand and use language cues are thinner in the male brain.  Schaefer recommends that, instead of being insulted if a man lets a conversation die out, women should instead consider that he is “simply basking in moments of quiet companionship.”
Women, on the other hand, are hard-wired to love to talk and communicate. Louann Brizendine, in her book “The Female Brain,” writes that “connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl’s brain. We’re not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It’s a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm.”

Mood

2.According to a McGill University study, the male brain produces 52 percent more serotonin than the female brain. Serotonin is a mood-influencing chemical, and its strong presence in men may explain why fewer men than women suffer from depression or why men often seem to be generally more easygoing than women.

Memories

3.Women tend to remember details better than men. This is probably because of the different ways the two sexes organize memories. Men use the part of the brain responsible for the action of an event, the right side of the amygdala, to organize memories.
Women, on the other hand, use the part of the brain responsible for emotional reactions, the left side of the amygdala, to order memories in terms of their emotional strength.  Interestingly, the amygdala is also the center of fear and anxiety in women and must be “turned off” in order for women to be sexually aroused.

Sex Hormones

4.In men, the part of the brain responsible for mating behavior is more than twice as large as it is in women’s brains. This area, called the preoptic area of the hypothalamus, is connected to the pituitary gland, which secrets sex hormones.  This may help to explain why men seem to have much more active sex drives than do women and also why, according to Brizendine, men think about sex every minute, while women could go a day or two without thinking about it.

Women tend to express emotion more than they think about sex. As Brizendine puts it, “Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road. Men, however, have O’Hare Airport as a hub for processing thoughts about sex, where women have the airfield nearby that lands small and private planes.”

Mommy Brain

5.The female brain is especially known for what has begun to be called “the maternal brain.” In an article on Oprah Winfrey’s website, Dr. Oz goes over some facts about the female “maternal brain” with Brizendine. For example, while a woman is pregnant, her brain changes its metabolism and shrinks in size, but without losing any cells. Dr. Brizendine admits, “We don’t know what it’s doing, but we think it has something to do with redeveloping the mommy brain’s circuits, but also maybe even letting the fetus ‘snack’ on the mommy’s brain.”

When a woman reaches menopause, this “maternal brain” shuts off. Hormones that have driven women to care, nurture and tend to others and to avoid conflict are no longer produced.