Friday, October 16, 2009

His Brain, Her Brain #1 revisited

Since Detective Hussey's manuscript is over, I thought I'd spend Friday's rerunning some of my more popular posts, based on what I see from my site statistics. This is from Sept 2, 2008, from workshop notes from the 2008 RWA conference, on a workshop given by Eileen Dreyer.

His Brain, Her Brain, or Why it Took Moses 40 Years to Find His Way Out of the Desert.

One fascinating point Dryer 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…

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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.

12 comments:

GunDiva said...

Interesting. Still doesn't explain why, when my husband writes, he always writes from the woman's POV. And, I have to say, he's pretty dead on. I keep asking him if there's something he needs to tell me. His answer: "I was single a LONG time, which gave me ample opportunity to study females." Guess that's as good an answer as any.

Terry Odell said...

I write both POVs, but I usually have an XY check the male POV scenes. It's also a matter for being able to tap into deeper emotions when a man writes a female characters. Some authors don't do it well at all.

Elena said...

Oddly, my therapist and I were chatting about the same thing. Our conclusion is that the XX and XY thing are really main headings subject to any number of permutations and combinations as in:
XX.XY, or XY.YXX

Explains a lot about the divergence between the outer wrapper and the inward feelings, and why it's never good to read a book by it's cover.

Terry Odell said...

Elena, I agree. That 'hormone wash' thing seems to explain the variations.

Sheila Deeth said...

Fascinating. Thanks.

Vivian said...

This is why Jeanne Robertson, humorist & speaker, refers to her husband as Left Brain.

Terry said...

Ah ha! Now I know why I'm always being accused of having a reptilian, guy brain by female friends.

It must have happened during the hormone washing. That's it. Too much testosterone slipped in.

Thank you for giving me an excuse. Always enjoy you.

Terry Odell said...

Terry, thanks for stopping by. Glad I could 'solve' a problem for you!

P.A.Brown said...

There are other things that can affect the brain. Two and a half years ago I suffered a severe illness that almost killed me. I suffered some mild brain damage which has left me almost unable to multitask anymore. My doctors also suspect some damage to my right brain -- I have issues with logical thought. But my left brain is almost enhanced and creative-wise I've never been stronger. I write more and better than before the illness, I've just had to learn to adjust to the loss in other areas. For one, I can no longer work in computers which I did for 15 years. But hey, my writing's going gangbusters.

Terry Odell said...

PA- so glad it was "almost."

The brain is an amazing thing. Glad the side effects enhanced your creative side (although I'm not sure I could survive without the computer anymore.)

P.A.Brown said...

I can still use a computer, I just can't be a network engineer anymore, and keeping up with the newest stuff is now nearly impossible. But writing and maintaining my web page are still easy. Like I said, could have been worse in so many ways.

Terry Odell said...

Ah, well. I could never do all that technical computer stuff to begin with. I'm strictly a user, and not a particularly savvy sophisticated one at that.