Differences Between the Brains of Girls and Boys
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. This phrase was popularized by a psychologist who turned a psychological analysis of the differences between girls and boys into his fortune.
This metaphor serves to illustrate the theme of our article: there are differences between the brains of girls and boys that determine their physical, psychological and behavioral development.
Even before birth, girls and boys come with a series of hormonal and genetic differences that determine differences of high or medium degrees such as size, hair type, eye color, sex, level of empathy, physical-motor skills, among others.
There are also distinctions found in different neuroscience studies that show patterns that will help parents and teachers to know why girls and boys act the way they do.
However, we must know that the brain is flexible and is constantly developing. So although in principle, boys are born gifted with certain skills and girls with others, these differences can balance out over the course of a lifetime.
Brain differences: boys
Studies have shown that boys tend to take their first steps faster and to handle themselves more successfully in relation to space. Thus, they would be more competent with games that involve placing blocks or building.
Baby boys’ brains have high levels of testosterone comparable to those of a man of 25 years. This high presence of testosterone is responsible for the masculinization of the brain, which, in short, means the preferential use of the right hemisphere linked to logical reasoning.
Louann Brizendine, MD, doctorate of neurobiology, neuropsychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, has published two books explaining the differences. In her research, she has revealed that:
- Boys tend to stimulate themselves emotionally faster than girls and, as soon as they get upset, they find it harder to calm down.
- Boys do not maintain eye contact or hold fixed glances on people’s faces as long as girls do. Instead, they show more interest in moving objects, geometric shapes, toys.
- They seem interested in competitive games more than cooperative games. Thus, they will prefer to recreate play battles, soccer or video games instead of playing school or another game in which there is no “prize” or in which winners and losers are not clearly defined.
- In one experiment, boys mentally rotated the images of objects using two sides of the brain area of spatial motion, located in the parietal lobe. Meanwhile, girls only used one area of the brain to do this task.
- In adolescence, boys are interested earlier and with greater intensity in sex, a subject that seems to take all their attention. This is due to the high testosterone levels in their brain.
- In adolescence, boys are not only bored, they are bored because the reward center of the brain works slower and, therefore, makes them less sensitive to stimuli.
Brain differences: girls
Scientists from the National Institute of Health conducted a resonance study of 500 children. In this study, it was established that although girls and boys showed, on average, the same mathematical skills, in the case of girls there were stronger skills linked to memory and language use.
Girls were found to also have a greater connection between both cerebral hemispheres, making it is easier to socialize. For this reason they tend to pronounce words earlier than boys.
The study by the Harvard Medical School professor summarizes these findings in the area of neuroscience, and suggests that girls:
- Show interest as soon as they are born in establishing eye contact and looking at faces.
- Girls also value emotional contact, caresses, pampering, attention from the environment in. They are also validated from that interaction. Based on these stimuli, early in life, they will determine if they are loved, appreciated or rejected. Already by this point, we see emotional differences in boys and girls.
- Girls have skills to read faces and recognize tones. Thus, with a slight change in their mother’s tone of voice, they will know that they disapprove of or approve of a certain behavior. Boys are not born with this ability. Hence, when reprimanding, parents should be more emphatic and clear.
- Because the corpus callosum of the brain is larger in girls than in boys, they can multitask and assume different responsibilities without being overwhelmed.