Tuesday, September 02, 2008

His Brain, Her Brain #1

After being sidetracked far too long, I'm back to sharing some notes from the RWA conference. As someone with a degree in Psychology (or so my diploma says), with a minor in Biology, and being married to a biologist, the "His Brain/Her Brain" program listing sucked me in. And once our speaker, Eileen Dreyer put up her first slide, which subtitled the presentation: "Or Why it too Moses 40 Years to Find His Way Out of the Desert," I figured there would be some worthwhile nuggets of wisdom. I've got a lot of notes, so I'm not going to be able to post everything in one day. Please come back.

One fascinating point she shared was that although we all know that someone with the XX chromosome set is female, and the males are XY, it's not 'either-or'. During gestation, at about the 6-8 week point, the fetus undergoes a 'hormone wash', which may be highly loaded with estrogen or testosterone. This overlays brain development and influences brain function. So, there's really a continuum of sexuality.

And – all of these points are generalizations. There will always be exceptions. Don't shoot the messenger. I'm sharing my notes here.

There are definite differences in brain structure in males and females. Differences are noted at 26 weeks of pregnancy. The brain develops differently in males before sex hormones are produced, so part of the sex differences in the brain is genetic.

Now, cutting to the chase: Humans started out a long, long time ago. Changes in the brain are nowhere near catching up. So, we're basically hard-wired to survive, but not in this century. Traveling back to the days of early man…

Males are hard-wired as hunters. They have better long range directional skills. They've got a better spatial sense. They focus on single tasks, on procreation, they focus on things.

Females are hard-wired as protectors of the nest. They're communal, have more finely tuned sensory skills, are multi-taskers. They're non-verbal communicators. They can process and integrate input faster.

Some differences (and remember, these are generalizations)

The male resting brain is 30% active.
The female resting brain is 90% active. (So, yeah, it's hard for us to 'shut down')
The male brain is logical.
The female brain is emotive.
The male brain is left hemisphere dominant, with the exception of the spatial area.
The female brain is more multi-hemisphere, with a thicker Corpus Callosum.
When men speak, only one site is active. (Right—they talk OR listen.)
When women speak, both the hearing and speech centers are active.

On the topic of lying:

Women lie to make others feel better
Men lie to make themselves look good.
Men don't lie more than women, they just get caught.
Women lie for self-deception
If a man and a woman are in a close relationship, it's harder to lie.

Remember to check back!


Diana Castilleja said...

Great post Terry! I'll be checking back.

Helen Hardt said...

Fascinating! And not at all surprising. Thanks for posting this!


Terry Odell said...

Diana, Helen, thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you're finding the information useful. It sure helps in the "hubby" department!

Ray said...

This is the start of a very interesting series. I will definitely be back.

Eileen Dreyer is a must read author for me mostly because of her medical background.

Moses spent 40 years in the desert because he wouldn't ask for directions.


Terry Odell said...

Ray -- we know Moses wouldn't ask for directions, but now we know why.

I took a workshop from Tracy Montoya on male and female speech patters earlier this year. I thought for sure I'd posted something about it, but can't find it here. Most of what she said connected completely to Eileen's workshop information.

Ray said...

I would like to see the information you got from Tracy Montoya.

I was first introduced to the speech pattern subject by Deborah Tannen. I read an article she wrote in a magazine and then her read "That's Not What I Meant!: How Conversational Style Makes or Breaks Relationships." NY: Ballantine, 1986.

I need to get some of her newer books.

It is difficult to get someone who is not familiar with the concept of male/female speech differences will just think the other part in the discourse is just not interested in the conversation.


Anita Birt said...

What a great idea for a post. The first episode is fascinating. I shall print it off when I'm upstairs at my other computer. I shall return.

Pat said...


This is great stuff!