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April 21, 2006

Another Science Shock: Men's, Women's Brains Wired Differently Emotionally

I never would have guessed:

Men and women are actually from the same planet, but scientists now have the first strong evidence that the emotional wiring of the sexes is fundamentally different. An almond-shaped cluster of neurons that processes experiences such as fear and aggression hooks up to contrasting brain functions in men and women at rest, the new research shows.

For men, the cluster "talks with" brain regions that help them respond to sensors for what's going on outside the body, such as the visual cortex and an area that coordinates motor actions.

For women, the cluster communicates with brain regions that help them respond to sensors inside the body, such as the insular cortex and hypothalamus. These areas tune in to and regulate women's hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and respiration.

"Throughout evolution, women have had to deal with a number of internal stressors, such as childbirth, that men haven't had to experience," said study co-author Larry Cahill of the University of California Irvine. "What is fascinating about this is the brain seems to have evolved to be in tune with those different stressors."

...

The scans also showed that men's and women's amygdalas are polar opposites in terms of connections with other parts of the brain. In men, the right amygdala is more active and shows more connections with other brain regions. In women, the same is true of the left amygdala.

Scientists still have to find out if one's sex also affects the wiring of other regions of the brain. It could be that while men and women have basically the same hardware, it's the software instructions and how they are put to use that makes the sexes seem different.

Scientists also speculate that "differing genitals" may play a role.

So, there you go. Women navel-gaze because their brains have evolved to study their "inner woman."


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posted by Ace at 11:45 AM

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