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Tue Jun 26, 2018, 09:29 AM

There Is No Biological Difference Between Male And Female Brains

Pop neuroscience has long been fascinated with uncovering secret biological differences between male and female brains. Just last year, the Google engineer James Damore caused an uproar after publishing a manifesto detailing the various ways women were biologically different from men.

But according to Lise Eliot, a professor of neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School and the author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain, anyone who goes searching for innate differences between the sexes won’t find them.

“People say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but the brain is a unisex organ. We have the exact same structures,” she said onstage Monday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.“There is absolutely no difference between male and female brains.”

Eliot said neuroscientists have yet to find a single circuit that’s wired differently between men and women, and that differences between sexes are best explained by nurture, not nature.


https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/563702/?__twitter_impression=true

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Reply There Is No Biological Difference Between Male And Female Brains (Original post)
ismnotwasm Jun 2018 OP
Chemisse Jun 2018 #1
Phoenix61 Jun 2018 #2
Chemisse Jun 2018 #3
Phoenix61 Jun 2018 #4
Chemisse Jun 2018 #5
Phoenix61 Jun 2018 #6

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 09:46 AM

1. Interesting, although there is more to nature than brain structure.

The influence of hormones on gender-related behavior is pretty powerful.

For example, oxytocin (breastfeeding, labor, etc) triggers nurturing emotions that are more prevalent among women (in general).

Testosterone is associated with dominance-seeking, assertive and non-nurturing behaviors, which are more common among men than women. Interestingly, men's testosterone levels drop significantly in the 3 weeks following the birth of their child, which is probably nature's way of assuring men help out with their infants.

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Response to Chemisse (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 09:56 AM

2. Both sexes produce oxytocin

Any differences in nurturing behavior are much better explained by how we socialize our children. If they were hormonally based behavior would be consistent across cultures but that is not the case.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 10:17 AM

3. Oxytocin is enhanced by estrogen, while it acts to counteract the effects of testosterone,

producing different behavioral results.

As a person of science, I am fascinated by gender-related behaviors driven by evolution, so come down heavily on the side of nature. Clearly societal expectations have some powerful effects as well. I think most people over-attribute the environment because it's easier to understand that the really complex biological interactions that appear to be at play.

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Response to Chemisse (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 10:29 AM

4. I respectfully, whole heartedly disagree

Socialization begins the moment of our birth and continues throughout our life. Male caregiving behavior has changed significantly in the last 50-60 years. We have family bathrooms in public spaces so dads can take daughters to the bathroom. The nature argument has been and continues to be used to maintain a male dominated society.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 02:40 PM

5. I agree about socialization.

And the change in male caregiving as well.

Just because we have certain gender-related tendencies does not mean they have to rule us. And it certainly does not justify a male-dominated society.

For example, I tend to think of Trumpites as people who allow "primitive" emotions to rule them (sexism, aggression, tribalism or racism, protectionism, as well as fear and rage), as opposed to the rest of us who recognize these tendencies, but rise above them to be thoughtful and measured and fair-minded in our thoughts and deeds.

But it's a never ending argument - where modern humans lie on the spectrum of nature vs nurture - and one that I have no interest in 'winning.'

Instead I appreciate the respectful exchange of ideas on a topic that I find really interesting.



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Response to Chemisse (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 26, 2018, 02:53 PM

6. One of the best studies ever

People volunteered to participate in a study. When they arrived they were taken to a room with a child about 18 months old. They were told things were running behind because one of the lab techs had to care for this child who belonged to an earlier subject. The participant was told if they could care for the child it would get things back on schedule. They were given the child's name and cared for the child which was the actual experiment. The child's sex had been randomly assigned and the child was dressed in the appropriate gendered clothing. Everybody interacted with the "girls" differently from the "boys." Girls were more likely to be held and engaged with verbally. Boys were more likely to be engaged in physical play. Girls were offered girl toys and boys were offered boy toys. The children didn't seem to have a preference either way. I'm not sure if there are clips on You Tube or not but it was fascinating to watch.

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