Part 2 - The Science of Men
Briefly, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which men and women differ within brain function. The human brain is primarily composed of two halves-the right cerebral hemisphere and left cerebral hemisphere. Although the two hemispheres look pretty much like and can do some similar things, there are differences. Generally speaking, left hemisphere usually controls speech and language, including basic reading, writing and arithmetic [The 3Rs]. The right side of the brain may control some aspects of language such as intonation. Further, it also controls visual-special functions like recognizing forms, geometry, navigation, complex mathematics, art and music.
Would you believe that hand preference- left-handed men have a greater chance of being more highly successful in life than right-handers. A John Hopkins study found that left-handers were 15% richer than right-handed college graduates; and other studies found that higher than normal numbers of left-handers consist among lawyers, architects, artists, musicians, and actors. On a side note, left-handers have some advantage in some sports such as football. Who can forget the” Snake”-Kenny Stabler of the Oakland Raiders in the 70s and 80s? In the past, there was brain dominance theory, which proved to be more myth than science. No one is necessarily “right brained” or “left brained” in their dominant manner of mental functioning. PET and fMRI studies show that most activities are done using both cerebral hemispheres in concert.
The left atmosphere is more language oriented, and overall, women have better language skills. This left hemisphere is sometimes referred to as the “social” brain. This translates that females, with their greater language, also have superior person perception of social behavior, including better recognition and facial emotional expression. While the right hemisphere is more visual- spatial, men have exceptionally good visual -spatial skills. This corresponds into excellent mechanical abilities but do not leave out the role and importance of genetics, hormones and the environment regarding male-female differences in the cerebral hemispheres. For example, studies show that excessive testosterone in males slows the growth in the left cerebral hemisphere while accelerating the growth of the right hemisphere.
Men, it seems, have larger frontal lobes with a greater density of cells in the right parietal lobe. This importance is associated with improved movement control, abstract thinking, planning, organizing, implementing and monitoring behavior. This is referred to as the executive functions within the brain. Spatial analysis and mathematical reasoning are additional strengths for men. In comparison, women’s right frontal cortex are bulkier, coupled with a greater density of neurons in parts of the left temporal lobe. This translates into language processing and comprehension, which allows girls to develop language faster and more comprehensively than boys. Additionally, with more attention and greater impulse control, women have half the number of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] diagnoses than the boys. Other findings suggest that women use more of their brains than men in nearly every cognitive task possible. On the other hand, a man’s brain seems to be more compartmentalized.
Even though our brains do not differ significantly, individual differences differ greatly among men and among women. And speaking of advantages, men do better with: 1. Target-directed gross motor skills like throwing a ball 2. Visual-spatial skills. 3. Navigating through a route 4. Complex university level mathematics. The nod go to the women in the following: 1. Most types of language skills. 2. Fine motor tasks. 3. Accuracy and object location. 4. Empathy for others. 5. Social interactions.
Deficits or damage to the frontal lobes in the brain have significant negative consequences. This area of the brain regulates many things such as: controlling impulses and emotions, planning; organization, movement, overall social and cognitive behavior, including judgment and decision-making. In other words, antisocial personality disorder [APD] characteristics in men include: increased violence, more impulsivity, impaired judgment, failure to conform to social norms, aggressiveness, disrespect for the safety of oneself and others, lack of sense of guilt or remorse, lack of empathy, employing rationalization and blame, glibness, inability to feel love , deceitfulness , shallowness with displays of lying and manipulation for personal gain, having a distorted sense of potential consequences of actions, not only for oneself, but for others, and emotions which characteristically are usually short-lived and egocentric.
To illustrate, when convicted multiple murderer Gary Gilmore was asked why he killed all those people at the filling station, he replied, “well, I didn’t intend to kill them, but, hey, they got in my way.” In the movie “No Country for Old Men” displayed countless illustrations of a disregard for others with uncontrolled violence and murder without remorse. These behaviors are not all genetic as learning history and the environment also play a role in the development of antisocial behaviors.
Chronic stress is associated with the shrinkage of the cortex and hippocampus of the brain, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and many other diseases. No one is immune from the posttraumatic stress [PTSD] diagnosis, which is correlated with an individual’s response that involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror. Interestingly, more women receive a PTSD diagnosis such as in certain situations-sexual trauma. For men, it’s different, since a PTSD disorder is more typical for returning Iraq war veterans [Re-experiencing of symptoms with intense feelings of distress]. A substance disorder and an antisocial personality disorder often follow for the soldiers.
A few facts about depression and suicide as related to men and women. Depression is the most prevalent psychiatric disorder in United States. Boys and girls have a similar risk of depression until puberty. Starting with adolescence, there is a greater incidence of depression among girls. Additionally, the lifetime adult risk is also greater for women compared to men; however, by 55 to 60 years of age, sex differences in depression disappear. It is believed that the sex differences are the result of emotional memories being more powerfully encoded in a woman’s brain; with stronger connections between the amygdala, hippocampus; accompanied by lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter.
A lethal danger of having a depression diagnosis is suicide. Within suicide, there are significant sex differences regarding attempts, and completions. For instance, three times as many women attempt suicide as men. However, four times as many men successfully commit suicide.
Genetically speaking, the nature of man is influenced by the complexity of the brain, especially between the brains left and right hemispheres. On the positive side, men have good mechanical abilities [Engineering]; do well in executive positions with the ability to plan, organize and implement decision-making [CEOs]; be navigators; and become physicists like Einstein and Hawking with their exceptionally high abstract and mathematical ability. Men’s visual spatial and gross motor skills dominate in professional sports, such as in baseball, football, tennis, soccer, swimming and track and field, to name a few.
Women have stronger skills as a whole with language and within social interactions. They make super ,loving mothers and good wives with their socialization ability to empathize, care for, nurture, communicate, and express feelings. Because of their attention to detail, fine motor skills, they are excellent in office situations.
Source: Institute for Natural Resources [INR]
More to follow about the role of the environment as well as hormones affecting the nature of men.