In the past, differences between men and women had been put down to many things; hormones, upbringing, social norms and pressures. But could the causes of behavioural differences be more physical? Recent research has found that, while factors like hormones and social pressures can cause differences between the genders, men and women’s brains are actually slightly different. The difference in physiology could have a much stronger effect on their behaviour than previously thought, and could explain some of those differences that we all struggle to understand.
For example, it has been found that the parietal cortex is significantly larger in men than women. This area of the brain is thought to control spatial perception, and could explain why it is than men have a naturally better awareness of the area around them than women, and even why men find it easier to reverse park a car than women. Women, on the other hand, have been found to have a thicker parietal cortex, which will possibly hinder them in this respect. An area known as the inferior-parietal lobule (IPL), thought to control a person’s ability to carry out mental arithmetic, has been found to be bigger in men’s brains than women’s, possibly explaining why it is that men has a naturally better ability to complete mathematics mentally than women.
Women’s brains have been found to have a “deeper” limbic system, the area of the brain associated with emotions and emotional responses to situations. This area not only explains why it is that women are more naturally care-givers than men, but also why it is that women are more prone to depression than men. Areas of the brain thought to be responsible for language have also been found to be larger in women than men. Of the two genders, women have always been considered to be the gender with the larger vocabulary, and have been found to do better in language subjects. Women have also been found to process language in both the left and right hemisphere of the brain, while men process it in only their dominant hemisphere.
This difference in hemisphere use extends to how the genders process information. Men have been found to have a natural preference for the left hemisphere of the brain, while women process information in both hemispheres. This means that men solve problems from a task-orientated perspective, while women use more creative techniques and place a greater emphasis on communication.
With such pronounced differences between the two genders, it seems logical that the brains of men and women are different. With new discoveries continuing to be made, it will be interesting to see what other differences science can explain.