Dec
05

2013

Brains of men and women are poles apart



Differences in the way the brains of men and women are wired helps to explain   why men are better at navigating while women can multitask.

It is something that men and women have both long suspected – their brains are   wired differently.

New research has confirmed that men’s brains appear to be configured to   coordinate actions with their senses.

Women’s brains, however, are set up to have better memories, to find   multi-tasking easier and to be better at gauging social situations.

The results seem to help shed light on why men are considered better at things   like navigating, parking cars and throwing balls while women are credited   with being better at multi-tasking, are more intuitive socially, and tend to   remember events like anniversaries.

The study, which analysed the brain structures of nearly 1,000 people, found   that men’s brains tend to have more connections within each side of the   brain and tend to run between the back and front.

Women on the other hand had more connections between the left and right side   of their brain.

The brains of men also contained more nerve fibres, while women had a greater   proportion of “grey matter”

brain graphs

Brain networks showing significantly increased intra-hemispheric connectivity in males (Upper) and inter-hemispheric connectivity in females (Lower). Intra-hemispheric connections are shown in blue, and inter- hemispheric connections are shown in orange. (PNAS)

The different patterns in the brains of men and women go some way towards   explaining the differences in behaviour and skills seen in men and women,   according to the researchers.

They claim that greater connectivity within a brain hemisphere, as is seen in   men, links the senses to the control of muscles.

More connections between the hemispheres of the brain, like those seen in   women, are better for analytical reasoning, social understanding and memory.

Tests on the volunteers taking part showed that women outperformed men in   attention tests, remembering faces and words, and social interactions.

Men, however, were better at processing spatial information about their   surroundings, controlling their movements and had faster reaction times.

Dr Ragina Verma, one of the researchers behind the study at the University of   Pennsylvania, said: “These maps show us a stark difference – and   complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide   a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at   others.”

Scientists have been using new types of neuroimaging in a bid to build   up new maps, known as connectomes, of how neurons in the brain since   2009.

The latest study, which is published in the journal Proceedings   of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain scans of 949   people aged between eight and 22 years old.

The scientists used a form of brain scan known as diffusion tensor imaging to   map neural connections in the brain.

Few differences between the sexes were seen in children younger than 13, the   scientists found.

However, they became pronounced in adolescents aged 14 to 17 and older young   adults.

One particular brain area, the cerebellum, displayed an opposite wiring   pattern, with more connectivity between hemispheres in men and more within   hemispheres in women.

Part of the so-called “reptilian” hind-brain, the cerebellum is the   most ancient brain region and controls muscle movement, co-ordination, and   balance.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really   are,” said Dr. Ruben Gur.

“Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better   understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also   give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are   often sex related.”

By  at the Telegraph UK



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