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Men are from Mars, Women from Venus? Their brains are certainly wired differently

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

These may come as relief to either men or women who have agonized over trying to understand the activities and motivations of the opposite sex. Drawing upon nearly 1,000 brain scans, scientists have confirmed the long-held beliefs of many: there is a stark difference in the wiring of male and female brains.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scans proved that an average women's brain is highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, in contrast to men's brains, where the connections were typically stronger between the front and back regions.

Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Ragini Verma, says that the greatest surprise was how much the findings supported old stereotypes. Men's brains are wired more for perception and coordinated actions; women's for social skills and memory, which makes them better equipped for multi-tasking.

"If you look at functional studies, the left of the brain is more for logical thinking, the right of the brain is for more intuitive thinking. So if there's a task that involves doing both of those things, it would seem that women are hardwired to do those better," Verma said. "Women are better at intuitive thinking. Women are better at remembering things. When you talk, women are more emotionally involved - they will listen more.

"I was surprised that it matched a lot of the stereotypes that we think we have in our heads. If I wanted to go to a chef or a hairstylist, they are mainly men," she added.

These latest discoveries come from one of the largest studies to look at how brains are wired in healthy males and females. Scientists have been given a more complete picture of what counts as normal for each sex at various ages. Studying the maps, scientists hope to learn more about whether abnormalities in brain connectivity affect brain disorders such as schizophrenia and depression.

Using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging, neural connections were mapped in the brains of 428 males and 521 females aged eight to 22.

Scans showed greater connectivity between the left and right sides of the brain in women, while the connections in men were mostly confined to individual hemispheres.

The only thing men had over their female counterparts were more connections between the left and right sides of the brain in the cerebellum, which plays a vital role in motor control. "If you want to learn how to ski, it's the cerebellum that has to be strong," Verma said.

Details of the study are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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