Articles make claims about sexual dimorphism all the time; differences betweeen male and female brains. However, most of them are either exaggerated or simply wrong. I’d like to share my sources in human sexual dimorphism to really show what the difference is between male and female brains. I’d like to show that it is not that simple. There are far too many other variables which really make a difference between males and females. Furthermore, the differences are more gender related, social related, culturally related, than simply the structure of the brain. Humans are dynamic and pointing it to just one thing is insulting to our incredible existence.
Now to look at the real evidence of human sexual dimorphism. I’m not going to mention speculations or social related conjecture about differences. What I am going to focus on is the simple structure of the brain and it’s common differences. I say common because, as I said, humans are dynamic. The differences can only be averaged between the two sexes. Before continuing, I think it important to tackle some terminology.
Sexual Dimorphism: The difference between males and females within a species. For this article, specifically the brain.
Sex: The physiological structure of a being. Simply the biology of an organism.
Gender: The social representation and interaction of an organism.
Neurons: The functional cell of the central nervous system. “Brain cells” that facilitate all brain functions.
It is important to note that both sex and gender use male and female. However, they are used within different contexts (ie. sex, gender). I will do my best to mention which I mean, but it will most often be sex in this article.
➡ Brain Structure
To best understand the differences between males and females, it’s best to take a quick look at the basic overall structure of the brain. I won’t delve into too much detail, just generalities. The specifics we can lay within the sexual dimoprhism. Here, I will just focus on introducing the main structures that will be mentioned.
The brain is grouped into four main lobes:
Frontal lobe: Area of consciousness, thought, general personality, memory. etc.
Parietal lobe: Significantly imporant in sensory interpretation, visualspatial processing, etc.
Occipital lobe: Predominantly concerned with visual senses.
Temporal lobe: Related to memory, smell, interpreting sound, recognition, etc.
The corpus callosum is the structure of the brain which connects the two major hemispheres of the brain. However, this is not the only cross-over point, there are other smaller sections but this one is the most pertinent.
➡ Sexual Dimorphism
* Remotely larger areas within frontal lobe correlated with problem-solving, and decision-making
* Somewhat larger size within limbic system regulating emotions
* Brain functions primarily with white matter (white matter indicating more networking between neurons)
* Females corpus callosum is larger than males encouraging faster communication between hemispheres
* Hippocampal regions larger in females than males, which is significant for long-term memory
* Parietal cortex enlargements encouraing spatial perception
* Some enlargements within amygdala regulating sexual and social behaviour
* Brain functions primarily with grey matter (grey matter indicating more density of neurons)
* Males have larger cerebral volume, simply meaning a larger brain in general.
* Larger regions of the hypothalamus, regulating endocrine system (hormones)
+ For further references and citations, please ask.
➡ Okay.. so tell me simply.. tl;dr
If you want the quick run down of my own interpertation of this data, it is like this:
Mens brains depend more on density and number of neurons. This means that neurons tend to focus more and not consider relations between between activiations. Mens brains only real advantage over the common female brain is visuo-spatial interpretation. This means they could play tetris better or better “visualize” how to do something or plan things. Furthermore, men have more active hormonal systems, which seems pretty redundant to mention.
Female brains depend more on networking and interaction of neurons. This means that neurons will interact often and integrate information from various other sources. Females only real advantage over the common male brain is long-term memory. This seems redundant to explain, but women tend to be better at recollection and relating various different memories to that concept.
At length, men and female brains are actually more similar than otherwise. While the differences are evident, it is not as significant as magazines will imply. These are generalities and with that comes the fact that some men will have larger hippocampal regions or women will have more grey matter. Humans are dynamic and we are all obviously unique. The fact is that both brains use the same neurons, same structures, same neurotransmitters, but with varying density and numbers. We are all an orchestra utilizing a different number of instruments and scores. Don’t buy into the magazine ads implying these differences are so exaggerated that they are nearly polar opposites. The fact is that our differences lay on a dynamic line and this is why transsexuals and transgendered people exist. Evolution and natural selection has maximized efforts to make sure that males and females can mate but all other social roles and cultural interpretations are relative to the pertinent time and culture.
Next time.. left vs right brains. What do you think…?