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How a man’s and a woman’s brain differ?

  • Posted on- Aug 18, 2015
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There are structural and neural processing differences between the brains of a man and a woman. The male brain has more gray matter (involved in processing), while the female brain has more white matter (involved in transmitting information). It is not just physical attributes that separate a man from a woman. Their brains too are not identical. Their brains have unique characteristics. They differ in structure, function, and ways of processing information. Men and women use their brains differently, owing to the difference in the amount of gray and white matter.

Size

The brain of a male is approximately 10% bigger than a female brain. The average brain volume of men is found to be around 1260 cm3, while women show an average brain volume of 1130 cm3. As far as weight is concerned, an average adult brain of men weighs around 1,345 g, while the weight of an average female brain is approximately 1,222 g. However, a larger brain does not necessarily indicate higher intelligence.

Gray Matter

Gray matter, the outer covering of the brain (also referred to as the cortex) is essentially involved in processing information. The gray matter in a male brain is 6.5 to 7 times as much as in a female brain. The gray matter that contains the nerve cell bodies, deals with processing visual inputs and other sensory perception skills such as hearing. The motor neurons present in gray matter also help in the movement of muscles.

White Matter

Female brains tend to have 9.5 to 10 times greater white matter than male brains. The white matter contains bundles of nerve fibres that carry information from one processing centre to another. It essentially connects different gray matter regions within the brain. More white matter means greater brain connectivity.

Thinking

Due to the higher percentage of white matter, one study suggests that women might be using more of white matter to think, while men might be utilizing more gray matter for the same purpose. In short, men and women think in a different way.

Neural Processing

  • The male brain favours localised processing, which means men are likely to be superior in activities that need more localized processing. To put it simply, men might be better at mathematical and analytical processing. No wonder, it is often said that men should be assigned the task of making and checking bills.
  • The female brain favours integrating and assimilating information the processing is distributed and involves gathering information from various regions of the brain. As a result, women tend to be better at language skills. They may be better at handling social events. Be it maintaining relationships or arranging social gatherings, women can use their superior language skills to their advantage.

Language Processing

Broca's and Wernicke's area, the language processing centres of the brain tend to be larger in women than in men. In these areas, the female brain shows greater neuron density than the male brain. Moreover, MRI scans also showed that women use both left and right hemispheres to process language, whereas men only use the left hemisphere.

Memory

Hippocampus is the region of the brain involved in memory formation. Compared to males, this human memory centre is found to be bigger in females. This could be one of the reasons why women tend to be better at remembering things. When it comes to social skills and memory, the female brain appears to be more competent than the male brain.

Head Injury

Frontal brain injuries can cause more damage in females than in males. This is because 84% of gray matter is present in a female's frontal lobes whereas a male frontal lobe houses only 45% of gray matter. On the other hand, 86% of white matter lies in the frontal lobe of female brains. A man's frontal lobe does not contain any white matter. So, one can say that the gray matter area is more spread out in males than in females. This indicates that a head injury may lead to a greater decline of cognitive performance in women than in men.

Aggression

Amygdala is associated with processing of emotions like fear, anger, and pleasure. It makes us aware of impending danger and the processing of negative emotions in this region is often responsible for aggression. Male brains have a larger amygdala than female brains. This means men have an edge over women when it comes to being aggressive. That could be the reason why males tend to be better and more competent in physical battles than their female counterparts.

Despite the notable differences in male and female brains, studies have shown that this does not have a substantial impact on their cognitive processing.

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