No real difference between male and female brains for communication


I’ve always enjoyed reading Headlines – the national newsletter of the Neurological Foundation.  If you are interested in the brain, its worth donating to the Foundation  even just to get that newsletter. The latest issue has an very interesting article titled ‘The Brain – 10 Top Myths.  The myth  that relates most to communication is #10 Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. 

The author, Laura Helmuth, states categorically that there is very little difference between male and female brains, the few differences are minor and do not affect any ability. In fact she describes the ‘Men are from Mars’ view as: “Some of the sloppiest, shoddiest, most biased, least reproducible, worst designed and most over-interpreted research in the history of science…”  Now that’s telling us!

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And she’s no slouch – senior editor for the Smithsonian Magazine with a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA, Berkley.

Helmuth says that the research about gender differences of the ‘Men are from Mars’ variety are strongly influenced by the beliefs of the test subjects. So all that handy stuff around spatial ability, empathy, who talks most and  judging people’s emotions , does not relate to gender. Presumably socialisation has a big impact, but any gender differences are not due to the brain’s make-up.

When we are thinking about a communication challenge, don’t make excuses for the brain!  Here’s a link if you want to think about this similarity in the context of your love life. You can expect yourself to be able to  pick up on emotions plus shut up and listen – regardless of your gender.  Now where’s something else to blame?

The other nine myths?

  • We only use 10% of our brain:  WRONG
  • Snapshot memories are accurate: WRONG
  • Its all downhill as we age: WRONG
  • We have five senses: WRONG ( she mentions two other senses)
  • The brain is hard wired and can’t be altered: WRONG
  • A blow to the head can cause amnesia:WRONG
  • We know what will make us happy: WRONG
  • We see the world accurately:WRONG

2 Responses to “No real difference between male and female brains for communication”

  1. What a fantastic article. Especially the myths part. Well written

  2. Lee says:

    Many thanks. Interesting research isn’t it? Lee

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