Monday, December 21, 2009

The Science Behind Men and Women - Part I

There are a lot of differences between the brains of men and women that scientists still debate about. One thing however seems clear -- biological differences account for at least some of the major differences between the attitudes and behaviors of men and women. Cultural practices is the effect, not the cause.

When couples engage in the context of, instead of despite of, their uniqueness, the engagement is much more romantic.
Photo: "Chris & Jessica Engagement" by Jeremy Blanchard

If you accept that men and women are indeed different, then perhaps there is no need to read further. But it wouldn't hurt to pick up more ideas for discussion with people who interpret, in a very literal sense, the statement that "men and women are born equal."

Let me explain . . .

In many cultures, the differences between men and women are well recognized. Both sexes have relative roles to play in society. In most cases, men provide the leadership in politics, military and economics, while women take the lead in maintaining welfare, administration, home and the kids. (This does not necessarily mean that cultures restrict a person to what is generally accepted as a male area and a female area.)

Given the diversity of cultural differences that exist in the world today, would it be logical to argue that the seeming commonality of how men and women play relative to each other is due to cultural reasons? Or would it be more logical to argue that men and women -- by virtue of their existence as Homo sapiens -- have strengths and weaknesses, which make them pre-disposed to do certain things and not the other, regardless of culture?

Let's check out two areas of the human brain that scientists discuss intensively about: the corpus calossum and the amygdala.

That white thing in the middle is larger among females than in males. That has huge implications on how males and females think.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia defines corpus calossum as follows (emphasis mine):

The corpus callosum (Latin: tough body), also known as the colossal commissure, is a wide, flat bundle of neural fibers beneath the cortex in the eutherian brain at the longitudinal fissure. It connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication. It is the largest white matter structure in the brain, consisting of 200–250 million contralateral axonal projections.

We all know that the left brain is associated with logic while the right brain is associated with emotion. Both sides communicate better in females than in males. The corpus calossum among males, according to some scientists, is smaller compared to that of females. These scientists claim that this is the reason why women tend to take their emotions into account when making decisions.

Men, in general, are left-brained, or so the experts say. The smaller corpus callosum limits a male's ability to express himself emotionally. This is also why men tend to make decisions regardless of how they feel about the decisions.

The amygdala, according to Wikipedia (emphasis mine)...

The amygdalae (play /əˈmɪɡdəliː/; singular: amygdala; also corpus amygdaloideum; Latin, from Greek αμυγδαλή, amygdalē, 'almond', 'tonsil', listed in the Gray's Anatomy as the nucleus amygdalæ) are almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain in complex vertebrates, including humans. Shown in research to perform a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions, the amygdalae are considered part of the limbic system.

Experts say that the amygdala among men is bigger than that of women. According to them, this facilitates the capacity of men to store more pent up emotion. Coupled by the fact that men generally find it difficult to express emotions (thanks to the smaller corpus callosum?), this makes men like walking emotional time bombs. Men could be nice in one moment and hugely violent in the next, after someone spoke the wrong word.

On the positive note, this is also one of the reasons why men could stand long periods of time hunting their pray in the woods or working for a living abroad. They thrive emotionally on the memory of their loved ones at home. Men at war also thrive on the memory of their flag and the cozy communities they belong to when they fight in the battle field.

So, it isn't entirely about culture, isn't it?

What do you think?

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