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3/25/09
Guy Brains: Why They Do What They Do

I'm reading a really interesting book right now called Leadership and the Sexes by Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis. It's all about the biological differences between the brains of men and women. And I'm not just talking about gender roles, which are culturally taught, but the actual, physical differences between brains of men and women. Blood flow pathways are different, different parts are accessed in different situations, and different chemicals are secreted to make the brain react differently. It's really quite interesting when you sit down and think about it. The book's purpose is to help corporations identify the different thought processes of each gender to take advantage of both, but I'm finding that it's also going a long way in understanding why men in general do what they do.

Like for instance, when problem solving, the male brain runs through a part that is very spatially-related. Men tend to focus on movement easier, so it's not uncommon for men to be tossing a ball back and forth, or tapping a pencil, or swatting at each other while they think and communicate. As soon as I read this, I sat up in bed and yelled "ah-ha!" because Tony has a habit of playfully swatting at me. All. The. Time. (And on my rear if he can get to it) And while I knew it was just his way of connecting (literally) with me, I couldn't for the life of me understand why swatting meant "I get you" in guy-brain).

Meanwhile, women tend to think through problems with words, be it written or spoken. The patterns in a woman's brain naturally go through the language center. So while I wouldn't normally swat or toss a football with someone to express myself, I would blog about it.

Oh, and another thing about men's brains? They turn off throughout the day. I'm serious. Male brains are chemically triggered to go into a "rest" state throughout the day, whereas women's brains don't really do that. So when I ask Tony what he's thinking, and he says "nothing" and I say, "Oh c'mon, you can tell me" and he says, "No really, I wasn't thinking anything" and I say, "why won't you tell me?" and he says, "Seriously, I wasn't thinking anything". HE REALLY MEANS IT. It has something to do with resting up between our ancestral wool mammoth hunts.

Women also use both hemispheres of their brain more, so they tend to see the relationships between things and people easier. They, as a whole, tend to interpret signals in the environment around them more, as opposed to the male brain's single-sided focus. They are literally able to focus on one single thing completely, while women naturally multi-task. Which is why Tony can be totally immersed in a hockey game and only be thinking of that hockey game. Meanwhile I'm watching the game, trying to decide if I should repaint my toenails, debating the pros and cons of eating that last cookie, planning tomorrow's schedule, and wondering why he's totally oblivious the fact that I'm even here on the couch next to him. It's just a brain thing.

Now, all this is not to say that men can't multi-task, and can't use words to express themselves and can't stay focused all day. It's just that to do so, they're fighting against their brains. It's like if you were an introvert by nature. You could make yourself go to a party every night, but deep down, you're still an introvert...you've just taught yourself to embrace parties.

Anyway, fabulously interesting book about the physical brain differences between men and women. I recommend it. Now if you'll excuse me, having exhausted my female brain word communication, I'm going to go talk to Tony by trading swats.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Ha, ha! That's really, really interesting and explains oh so many things...