Men and Women: Are Their Brains Actually Different?

Neuroscientists study multidisciplinary science, which includes the analysis of our behavior and nervous system. According to CNN, scientists have learned more about the brain in the past ten years, than in other time periods combined. One common examination among the neuroscience field is the difference between male and female brains. However, even though accredited individuals have found differences between the brains of men and women, people still have doubts about whether this is true. Even people among our community have taken a side in this debate.

In a recent study that was published in 2017, Philippe Tobler, a neuroscience professor and co-author of this new study, tested a hypothesized gender difference theory between men and women. It is said that women tend to be more prosocial and generous than men, so Tobler decided to put this argument to a test. He and his colleagues created a set of experiments that would show how dopamine, a natural chemical released during moments of pleasure, might impact behavior.

Fifty-six men and women made decisions between sharing financial rewards or keeping it for themselves. The results showed that the female participants acted less selfishly compared to the male participants.

Later on, the men and women took a drug called amisulpride and were given the same choice, though this time the women acted more egotistical. Why is that? The amisulpride caused the dopamine systems to be disrupted, therefore altering the participants’ decisions.

"Based on the opposing priorities of the genders, interfering with the dopamine system has opposing effects," said Tobler.

Other common theories regarding the male and female brain include: women are better at multitasking, while men are better with directions. Many believe this is true and have conducted research, while others believe that the ‘difference’ in the brains of men and women is all a myth. A common thought is that males and females are not really all that different, but are perceived to be because from a young age we are infused with the “pink-versus-blue” culture.

“I think that men and women are born the same but because of social norms that changes,” said Felix Gaddie, XIIIs.

Gina Rippon, neuroscientist and author, wrote a book called The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience That Shatters The Myth Of The Female Brain. She was once called “a leading voice against the bad neuroscience of sex differences.” In her book, Rippon revolves around the idea that a gendered world will lead to a gendered brain. In other words, if our society has certain standards for different genders, our brains will view each gender as a portrayal of a certain role.

In the XsMo, the Xs, along with their teacher Molly Lipman, have discussed identity in the classroom and have been going into depth about what this means to them. The Xs learned that gender can play a role in how one perceives themselves and others. A few Xs agree with Gina Rippon and say that men and women are similar, however we are raised to think otherwise.

“When people are born, their genders form their identity. Society created stereotypes and genders are forced into them,” said Ian Allard-Neptune, XsMo.

“I think it is different in physical terms, but in the mind we are the same,” added Maddie Braun, XsMo.

Because of this, Rippon believes that certain stereotypes have been developed claiming that women’s brains are optimized for “empathy and intuition,” while men’s are wired for “reason and action.”

Overall, this debate continues: are men really psychologically different from women, or has our society built us to think that way? It could be that men and women are different psychologically, though our society still plays a part to shape our identities.

Sources: CNN, NY Times

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