Remember that dopey book, Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus ? You don't? Well, the author, John Gray, PhD , made a shit-ton


Today in Sex: Men and Women's Brains Are More Alike After Puberty

Remember that dopey book, Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus? You don't? Well, the author, John Gray, PhD, made a shit-ton of money talking about how different the genders are from one another. In fact, he's pretty much built an empire out of it. However, according to a study just released from the National Institutes of Health, the brains of adult men and women aren't so different after all. . . .

According to the study (which seemingly contradicts many other studies, as academics are wont to do), that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, girls and boys start off with very obvious differences in the cerebral cortex. But once puberty hits and aging begins, these differences become less pronounced, especially between the ages of 9 and 22.

According to an article on Psychology Today's website, written by Dr. Leonard Sax--who mercifully translated the academese into English--

To put it another way: after the onset of puberty - when girls start making lots of estradiol and other 'female' hormones, while boys start making lots of testosterone and other 'male' hormones - sex differences in the brain actually decrease. The brains of 9-year-old girls and boys are remarkably different - but they grow more and more alike throughout adolescence and into young adulthood.

I just need to take a minute to thank Dr. Sax, because if I had just seen the title of the original article, "Longitudinally mapping the influence of sex and androgen signaling on the dynamics of human cortical maturation in adolescence" . . . well, once I slapped myself back awake, I closed the book. Which is too bad, because it's fascinating stuff.

Being in the relationship advice business, I get letters from hetero people all time, completely stymied by the actions of the opposite sex. They just can't fathom why he hasn't called or how come she's so gung-ho to get married. Okay, this article doesn't even start to answer questions like these, but he does clarify the whole childhood differences thing brilliantly. Take it away, Dr. Sax:

Here's one way to illustrate the point: How long can you sit still, be quiet, and pay attention? If you compare mature adults - say, a 40-year-old woman with a 40-year-old man - you won't find any difference. A average 40-year-old man can sit still, be quiet and pay attention for roughly as long as the average 40-year-old woman.

But now compare a 6-year-old boy with a 6-year-old girl. You will typically find that the attention span of the average 6-year-old boy is shorter than the average 6-year-old girl, especially if he has to sit still and be quiet. In my visits to more than 300 schools over the past ten years, I have found many 6-year-old boys who absolutely have to bounce up and down and make buzzing noises, in order to pay attention. As one teacher said to me, referring to one young boy in her class: "When that boy sits down, his brain shuts off."

It's unusual to find a 40-year-old man who absolutely has to bounce up and down and make buzzing noises in order to pay attention.

Well . . . I can think of at least one, but I still think this is interesting research.

comments powered by Disqus