The Male and Female Brain
The differences in the behavior between all genders can be attributed to the way the brain develops in the womb. Scientists are now discovering there are specific brain differences based on testosterone dominant or estrogen dominant in-utero experiences.
Male & Female Brain Structure
- The human brain, both male and female, has 100 billion neurons, roughly the number of stars and planets in the Milky Way.
- New neurons connect to each other through neural pathways. The more activity that is associated with a certain part of the brain, the more neural connections are made and the stronger they get.
- If certain parts of the brain are not used, neural pathways weaken and dry up. The brain is a “use-it-or-lose-it” organ.
- Male and female brains produce hormones that support brain growth. The male hormone is called testosterone and the female hormone is called estrogen. Males and females have both testosterone and estrogen.
- Between 3 to 6 months in the womb, the baby is being bombarded with different hormones. When there is more testosterone, certain areas of the neocortex grow and become connected. When the developing brain gets bombarded with estrogen and progesterone, certain other areas in the neocortex grow and connect
- If the child in the womb is a chromosomal male child (XY), the mothers hormonal system reads this as male and sends more testosterone. If the child is a chromosomal female (XX), the mother’s hormonal system sends more female hormones.
- In the womb, the child is being sexualized by the hormones it receives as either masculine or feminine.
- The brain development of all babies, no matter what their sex, is stimulated by all hormones. All males have some estrogen; all females have some testosterone.
- However, male babies get more testosterone and thus a more “male brain” develops while female babies get more estrogen and thus a more female brain develops.
- The development of the male and female brain in the womb can be affected by the stress the mother experiences during pregnancy.
- Physical abuse, illness and emotional distress can cause the mother’s stress hormone (which is called cortisol) to cut off some of the normal surges of testosterone or estrogen.
- It’s possible for a boy to be born with a penis, testicles and other physiological male traits but with a female brain. The same is true for a girl. A female can have female physiological traits but have a male brain.
- Some males report that they feel like a female trapped in a male’s body. Some females feel like a male trapped in a female’s body.
- While males and females acquire new neural skills throughout life, the way the brain is set up during pregnancy does not change.
(COURSEWORK): Male and Female Identity/Roles
1. Growing up in my family, the gender roles I noticed in my parent(s) and how they live
2. In my family culture males _________________________________________________
3. In my family culture females _______________________________________________
4. Do I still hold these family roles/identities in my family today? _____________________
5. What does our family like to do together and separately? _________________________