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Al-Cordoby  
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Topic: Tale of Two Brains ....
    Posted: 08 September 2009 at 1:31pm

Are men's brains different from women's brains?

To answer this question, an interesting and at the same time funny presentation by Mark Gungor on the difference between how men and women think

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuMZ73mT5zM

One of the things Mark mentions in his talk is that when men are stressed, they need to go to their "nothing" box, and not talk about it, whereas when women are stressed they must talk about it ....

Do you think that is a reasonable rule of thumb?

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 08 September 2009 at 2:08pm
Hey no fair we have our nothing box as well...I am the worst channel surfer in my whole house...even my lil nephew is better than me...
 
It is funny and  kind of true ...the high tension wired part... the internet highway and the zeeeeeeeeeeee sound....so many thoughts going on in the brain at once...it does happen sometimes and then we have to consciously shut it off....but thats why women are better at multi tasking maybe
 
Women have their nothing boxes too but they are a bit discrete about it...I mean they would just pretend they are occupied with sublimer thoughts...but really sometimes its nothing too....:)
 
Women generally talk so that to others they may look less stressed than they actually are...  its a coping mechanism...silence is a better one but it does make sense from observation that the general rule is women talk more and men dont...they just phase out........the not fixing part is true for women too......sometimes it helps if there is just someone to listen....Thats the female perspective...from me...others please contribute
 
 
So is it true that men just talk when they want to fix something?
 
I thought men generally talk less...isn't it a gender difference?
 


Edited by a well wisher - 08 September 2009 at 9:44pm
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 09 September 2009 at 2:27pm
Yes, it is a gender difference
 
A few months ago I attended a talk by a neurologist called Dr. Amr Sherif, who wrote a book titled (The Human Brain: Male or Female?)
 
It was a very interesting talk where he presented scientific facts that prove that both brains are indeed different.
 
The American Academy of Neurology in its 1999 conference in Toronto in its closing session made a statement where it said that "there is no doubt that there are differences in the structure and fuinction of the brain of men and women, and that getting to know these differences will help us understand the differences in the way men and women think. .... These differences do not imply that one of the two sexes is better than the other ..."
 
Men and women complement each other, and the differences of their brains is for their own well-being.
 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 09 September 2009 at 3:02pm
The nature Vs nurture debate has been going on for a while...
 
What people dont realize is that even according to science apart from biological differences there are emotional, chemical and  behavioural differences between men and women ...they are designed to be what they are to serve a purpose.. and their roles are complementary ....so it is all about supplying mutual needs and offsetting mutual lacks...
 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 10 September 2009 at 1:32am
Yes, and from a scientific point of view it's an interesting topic for research:
 
Men and women do think differently, at least where the anatomy of the brain is concerned, according to a new study (2005).

The brain is made primarily of two different types of tissue, called gray matter and white matter. This new research reveals that men think more with their gray matter, and women think more with white. Researchers stressed that just because the two sexes think differently, this does not affect intellectual performance.

Psychology professor Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine led the research along with colleagues from the University of New Mexico. Their findings show that in general, men have nearly 6.5 times the amount of gray matter related to general intelligence compared with women, whereas women have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men.

http://www.livescience.com/health/050120_brain_sex.html
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote 4everHopeful Replybullet Posted: 10 September 2009 at 6:11pm
Really interesting topic.  It is true that when most women are stressed they like to talk it out. I think its our way of just getting it off our chests - well providing we actually have someone to talk to that is - when we don't there's always email! lol. The preferable choice is always our mothers or a good female friend. Women lend a listening ear, men tend to try be Mr. Fix-its.

My internet connection is soooo slooooow. I'm still waiting for the video to load.

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 11 September 2009 at 12:06am
Yes really interesting indeed...
 
This sheds some light as well....
 
 
but what about the nothing box....I am sure women have it as well...Sister
4everhopeful please back me up on this:)
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 12 September 2009 at 5:32am
More scientific background:
 

What was once speculation is now being confirmed by scientists: the brains of women and men are different in more ways than one (2008).

Discoveries by scientists over the past 10 years have elucidated biological sex differences in brain structure, chemistry and function. “These variations occur throughout the brain, in regions involved in language, memory, emotion, vision, hearing and navigation,” explains Larry Cahill, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine.

While women and men struggle to communicate with each other and ponder why they don't think and react to things in similar ways, science is proving that the differences in our brains may have more serious implications beyond our everyday social interactions.

Scientists are looking into ways that sex-based brain variations affect the thought processes and behavior of men and women differently. According to Cahill, “their discoveries could point the way to sex-specific therapies for men and women with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

To better understand the implications of sex differences in the brain, it is important to examine disease entities in depth. Take Alzheimer's disease, for example. Significant differences exist between men and women who suffer from the disease.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2008/03/01/35810.aspx

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 13 September 2009 at 1:24am

10 Big Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Brains

Jun 16th, 2009

By Amber Hensley

The differences between women and men are not only well-documented, but frequently at the heart of jokes, anecdotes, and good-natured (and not so good-natured) ribbing. Experts have discovered that there are actually differences in the way women’s and men’s brains are structured and in the way they react to events and stimuli. So the next time your wife, boyfriend, or parent starts telling you how you should have done something differently, then refer back to these big differences between men’s and women’s brains.

  1. Human relationships. Women tend to communicate more effectively than men, focusing on how to create a solution that works for the group, talking through issues, and utilizes non-verbal cues such as tone, emotion, and empathy whereas men tend to be more task-oriented, less talkative, and more isolated. Men have a more difficult time understanding emotions that are not explicitly verbalized, while women tend to intuit emotions and emotional cues. These differences explain why men and women sometimes have difficulty communicating and why men-to-men friendships look different from friendships among women.
  2. Left brain vs. both hemispheres. Men tend to process better in the left hemisphere of the brain while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres. This difference explains why men are generally stronger with left-brain activities and approach problem-solving from a task-oriented perspective while women typically solve problems more creatively and are more aware of feelings while communicating.
  3. Mathematical abilities. An area of the brain called the inferior-parietal lobule (IPL) is typically significantly larger in men, especially on the left side, than in women. This section of the brain is thought to control mental mathematical ability, and probably explains why men frequently perform higher in mathematical tasks than do women. Interestingly, this is the same area of Einstein’s brain that was discovered to be abnormally large. The IPL also processes sensory information, and the larger right side in women allows them to focus on, "specific stimuli, such as a baby crying in the night."
  4. Reaction to stress. Men tend to have a "fight or flight" response to stress situations while women seem to approach these situations with a "tend and befriend" strategy. Psychologist Shelley E. Taylor coined the phrase "tend and befriend" after recognizing that during times of stress women take care of themselves and their children (tending) and form strong group bonds (befriending). The reason for these different reactions to stress is rooted in hormones. The hormone oxytocin is released during stress in everyone. However, estrogen tends to enhance oxytocin resulting in calming and nurturing feelings whereas testosterone, which men produce in high levels during stress, reduces the effects of oxytocin.
  5. Language. Two sections of the brain responsible for language were found to be larger in women than in men, indicating one reason that women typically excel in language-based subjects and in language-associated thinking. Additionally, men typically only process language in their dominant hemisphere, whereas women process language in both hemispheres. This difference offers a bit of protection in case of a stroke. Women may be able to recover more fully from a stroke affecting the language areas in the brain while men may not have this same advantage.
  6. Emotions. Women typically have a larger deep limbic system than men, which allows them to be more in touch with their feelings and better able to express them, which promotes bonding with others. Because of this ability to connect, more women serve as caregivers for children. The down side to this larger deep limbic system is that it also opens women up to depression, especially during times of hormonal shifts such as after childbirth or during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  7. Brain size. Typically, men’s brains are 11-12% bigger than women’s brains. This size difference has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence, but is explained by the difference in physical size between men and women. Men need more neurons to control their greater muscle mass and larger body size, thus generally have a larger brain.
  8. Pain. Men and women perceive pain differently. In studies, women require more morphine than men to reach the same level of pain reduction. Women are also more likely to vocalize their pain and to seek treatment for their pain than are men. The area of the brain that is activated during pain is the amygdala, and researchers have discovered that in men, the right amygdala is activated and in women, the left amygdala is activated. The right amygdala has more connections with areas of the brain that control external functions while the right amygdala has more connections with internal functions. This difference probably explains why women perceive pain more intensely than do men.
  9. Spatial ability. Men typically have stronger spatial abilities, or being able to mentally represent a shape and its dynamics, whereas women typically struggle in this area. Medical experts have discovered that women have a thicker parietal region of the brain, which hinders the ability to mentally rotate objects–an aspect of spatial ability. Research has shown this ability in babies as young as 5 months old, negating any ideas that these abilities were strengthened by environmental influences.
  10. Susceptibility to disorders. Because of the way men and women use the two hemispheres of the brain differently, there are some disorders that men and women are susceptible to in different ways. Men are more apt to have dyslexia or other language problems. If women have dyslexia, they are more likely to compensate for it. Women, on the other hand, are more susceptible to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. While handedness is not a disorder, these brain tendencies also explain why more men are left-handed than are women. Men are also more likely to be diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and Tourette’s Syndrome.

http://www.mastersofhealthcare.com/blog/2009/10-big-differences-between-mens-and-womens-brains/

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote Al-Cordoby Replybullet Posted: 13 September 2009 at 4:09pm
Thanks for posting that sister
 
This research is from last December:
 

Sex Difference On Spatial Skill Test Linked To Brain Structure

ScienceDaily (Dec. 18, 2008) — Men consistently outperform women on spatial tasks, including mental rotation, which is the ability to identify how a 3-D object would appear if rotated in space. Now, a University of Iowa study shows a connection between this sex-linked ability and the structure of the parietal lobe, the brain region that controls this type of skill

The parietal lobe was already known to differ between men and women, with women's parietal lobes having proportionally thicker cortexes or "grey matter." But this difference was never linked back to actual performance differences on the mental rotation test.

UI researchers found that a thicker cortex in the parietal lobe in women is associated with poorer mental rotation ability, and in a new structural discovery, that the surface area of the parietal lobe is increased in men, compared to women. Moreover, in men, the greater parietal lobe surface area is directly related to better performance on mental rotation tasks.

The study results were published online Nov. 5 by the journal Brain and Cognition. ........

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217124430.htm

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2009 at 12:03am

Do Men and Women Have Different Brains?

Is there some physical reason that stress makes men want to punch, and women want to cry?

Yes! Neuroscientists now insist that men and women truly DO have different brains.  

Many books and movies highlight the psychological differences between men and women — Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus, for example. And now brain image studies of men and women under stress proves its all true – male and female brains do differ in response to stressful situations. In men, increased blood flow to the left orbitofrontal cortex activates the “fight or flight” response. In women, stress activates the limbic system associated with emotional responses.

Researchers induced moderate performance stress by asking the men and women to count backward by 13, starting at 1,600. Researchers monitored the subject’s heart rate. They also measured the blood flow to the brain and checked for cortisol, a stress hormone. Neuroscientists say the changes in the brain during stress response also lasted longer in women.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT: Certain events act as “stressors,” triggering the nervous system to produce hormones to respond to a perceived danger. Specifically — the adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol and release them into the bloodstream. This speeds up both heart and breathing rates, increases blood pressure and contractions in major muscle groups. These and other physical changes help us to react quickly and effectively under pressure.

This stress response is commonly called the *fight or flight response.* But even low levels of continuous stress can damage your health. The nervous system remains slightly activated and continues to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period, leaving you feeling depleted or overwhelmed, and weakening your immune system. And equally undesirable is the fact that stress KILLS brain cells.

STRESS-REDUCING TIPS: There are several practical things you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life: (1) Try not to over-schedule your time, (2) Cut something out when you start to feel overwhelm. (3) Get a good night’s sleep. (4) Get regular exercise. (5) Follow a healthy diet. (6) Learn to relax.

 

Women and Stress
By: Judy Foreman
08/13/02

Do men and women handle stress differently? Or, to put it more provocatively, do women have a built-in hormonal advantage when it comes to dealing with chronic stress?

That’s the (highly loaded) question at the heart of a fascinating body of research that’s got the Net humming, with enthusiastic emails flying from woman to woman.

The case for this feminist theory of stress management is circumstantial  – built largely on inferences from animal studies and, at some points, frank leaps of faith. Still, the hypothesis has intuitive appeal, at least to women, so it’s worth exploring.

For decades, scientists who study the body’s physiological response to stress have focused on the “fight or flight” model. This view says that when an animal perceives danger, a number of hormones kick into action (among them, cortisol, ACTH, CRH, vasopressin and others). These hormones rev up heart rate and blood pressure, get sugar to the muscles and generally speed things up, the better to fight predators or get out of harm’s way, fast.

And there is absolutely no question that both males and females have – and need – this system.

But this view of stress is both male-biased and incomplete, say a number of researchers, most notably Shelley E. Taylor, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Taylor’s theory, based on more than 200 studies by other people, mostly biologists and psychologists, is that women have a powerful system for fighting stress that’s based in part on a hormone called oxytocin.

Granted, there’s no clear evidence that women on average actually have more oxytocin in their bloodstreams than men. But they do have more of another hormone, estrogen, which does boost the effectiveness of whatever oxytocin is around.

Oxytocin, which some dub the “cuddling” or social attachment hormone, is best known as the hormone produced during childbirth and lactation has been shown to stimulate bonding in animals, most notably prairie voles and sheep.

Even more intriguing, there’s evidence from the laboratory of Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and elsewhere that oxytocin may act as a genuine “antistress” hormone.

For instance, the Karolinska group reported in 1998 that daily oxytocin injections, into both male and female rats, decreased blood pressure and the stress hormone, cortisol, and promoted weight gain and wound healing. The group has also shown that injections of oxytocin in rats enhanced sedation and relaxation and reduced fearfulness.

To Taylor and her colleagues, the thrust of this evidence suggests that women may be programmed by evolution to deal with stress, not just in the “male” way, by fighting aggressors or running away, but also by “tending and befriending,” that is, turning to each other for moral support and nurturing the young.

In other words, “there appears to be a counter-regulatory system that may operate more strongly in females than males, that leads to engagement of oxytocin and social contact,” which in turn may reduce stress, says Taylor, author of the book, “The Tending Instinct.”

“If we want to get a complete picture of how people manage stress, we need to look at both men and women,” she adds. “Historically, researchers have looked mostly at men.” Indeed, prior to 1995, women constituted only 17 percent of studies of the hormonal responses to stress. Things have gotten somewhat better since then, she says, but of nearly 15,000 people in 200 stress studies between 1985 and 2000, only 34 percent were female.

What, then, is really known about oxytocin? Quite a bit.

First, it’s a tiny molecule of only nine amino acids that is made in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It works closely with a related molecule, vasopressin, which is carried on the same chromosome as oxytocin and is so similar that the two chemicals fit into each other’s receptors in the brain, notes Sue Carter, a behavioral neuroendocrinologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

But while oxytocin, which acts in tandem with estrogen, often has calming effects, vasopressin, which acts in tandem with the male hormone, testosterone, can act as a stress response enhancer, among other things, raising blood pressure.

In most species, says Carter, male brains contain more vasopressin than female brains, especially in an area called the amygdala, a fear processing center. Vasopressin has also been linked to increased aggression and male territoriality.

Put another way, oxytocin “is associated with typically female behaviors, such as childbirth and nurturing the young, whereas vasopressin is associated with male behaviors, such as territorial aggression,” writes Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University in his new book, “The Emotional Revolution.”

The most intriguing feature of oxytocin is that it seems to act as both a cause of bonding between animals and a result of it, suggesting that perhaps through bonding behavior, it can be a stress reducer.

For instance, a number of studies have shown that oxytocin promotes bonding in animals: between mothers and babies, and between adults. In prairie voles, Carter’s studies show, injections of oxytocin lead to increased bonding. And when stressed, Carter has found, both male and female voles choose to bond - with females.

Several studies, for instance, have suggested that women who nurse their babies have lower anxiety compared to bottle-feeding mothers and that lactating rats exhibit less fear.

In one 1995 study, for instance, Carter and Dr. Margaret Altemus, a psychiatrist at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, asked about 20 new mothers to undergo an exercise stress test – running on a treadmill. About half the women were nursing and half were bottle-feeding. The women who were bottle-feeding showed steeper increases in stress hormones than the nursing mothers. Other studies, notes Altemus, have suggested that panic disorder is relieved during pregnancy and lactation.

In other words,  “there may be something going on in a woman’s nervous system that may protect her against stress, at least transiently,” says Carter. And because any kind of positive social experience has the potential to trigger release of oxytocin in both men and women, she adds, men as well as women can  benefit from positive emotional contact with other people.

Beyond oxytocin, there are other chemical clues to differences in the ways in which women and men may handle stress.

At Ohio State University, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry at Ohio State University  and her husband, Ronald Glaser, an immunologist, have studied hormonal and immunological responses to stress and found some striking gender differences.

In one experiment, the Ohio team asked 90 young, happy, newly-wed couples to spend 24 hours, including a night’s sleep, in the hospital lab. “They were in absolutely pristine mental and physical health,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. The researchers placed a catheter in each subject’s arm so that blood could be drawn every hour to test for hormone levels and various aspects of immune function.

Early in the stay, each couple was asked to spend 30 minutes discussing an area of disagreement. This conflict was recorded on videotapes that were later scored by trained observers, both male and female, for evidence of negative behavior such as hostility, sarcasm, put downs, etc.

The results were stunning:  Marital strife was much tougher on women than men. The women showed a faster and more enduring response to hostility, says Kiecolt-Glaser, noting that women’s stress hormones (particularly epinephrine, norepinephrine and ACTH) rose more sharply and stayed up longer than men’s. Women also showed a lowering of certain aspects of immune function.

In a follow-up study, the Ohio team found that women whose stress hormones had risen the highest during the earlier phase of the study were the most likely to get divorced.

 “Women show greater sensitivity to negative marital interactions than men,” says Kiecolt-Glaser. And this can’t be chalked up to over-reacting, or to some female hypersensitivity to stress in general because in other situations designed to induce stress in the lab, such as being asked to perform mental arithmetic, men show larger increases in stress than women.  

In other words, in a marriage, Kiecolt-Glaser says, women are actually more accurate judges of what’s going on emotionally. Indeed, when the outside reviewers rated the videotapes of the couples’ interactions, their assessment of hostility and negative behavior correlated with the women’s. Women simply experience a bigger stress response to men’s sarcasm and hostility than men do to women’s, she says.

The bottom line? If you feel stress in an interpersonal relationship, you’re probably right that the stressors are truly there. If you do feel stressed out, call a friend. If you don’t have a friend, make one, or more. And if all else fails, snuggle up with a prairie vole.

Judy Foreman is  Lecturer on Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an affiliated  scholar  at the Women’s Studies Research Center  at Brandeis University.. Her column appears every other week. Past columns are available on www.myhealthsense.com.

Do Women Have More Stress than Men?

At least in terms of behavior and feelings – as opposed to physiological measures of oxytocin and other hormones – there are clear differences in the ways men and women experience stress.

For one thing, women seem to have more of it, even though they outlive men, says Ronald Kessler, a sociologist and health care policy professor at Harvard Medical School.  

In one 1998 study done with colleagues at the University of Arizona, Kessler had men and women keep daily mood diaries for a week. “There were large sex differences,” he says. Men and women were equally good at getting rid of minor “spells of depression,” says Kessler, but “women have more bad stuff going on.”

“What really gets to people is the little crap,” says Kessler, “the daily hassles,” which women may have more of because they are often the ones who take responsibility for coordinating family and work schedules. “It’s the coordination that kills you, and when something gives, it’s the woman who fills in the gap.”

And while women often do relieve their own stress by turning to each other, the fact that women also often have more people in their lives to care –and worry – about may actually increase stress, says Kessler. “Men and women have the same emotional reactions” when something bad happens to people close to them, he says, but women often have more people in those networks, a phenomenon he calls the “cost of caring.”

Psychologist Alice Domar at the Mind/Body Medical  Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston agrees that data clearly show that women are more stressed day to day than men, and it’s not, as was once thought, because they ruminate more.

“Men worry about three things: their immediate family, their job and money,” she says. “Women worry on a daily basis about up to 12 things – their immediate family, their job, money, their extended family, their friends, their kids’ friends, the way the house looks, their weight, the dog, etc.”

That same gender breakdown seems to occur in one of life’s most stressful situations, being diagnosed with cancer, says Barrie Cassileth, a psychologist and medical sociologist who runs the integrative medicine service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

When first diagnosed with cancer, “men and women do respond very differently,” she says. “Women always talk…and women gain as much from giving as from receiving support from others. Women have such a nurturing instinct that even when facing harsh realities, they do reach out to others.”  

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote 4everHopeful Replybullet Posted: 16 September 2009 at 5:19am
Originally posted by a well wisher

 
but what about the nothing box....I am sure women have it as well...Sister
4everhopeful please back me up on this:)


Asallamu aliakum sis,

my husband downloaded the video for me, and a few other ones. I have to say its really funny, and I laughed so much! Hmmmmmm...do we as women have a nothing box? I do remember the occasional time my husband asking, what are you thinking about...and my answer would be 'nothing', my brain quietly blank for a bit. I think we do have a nothing box, but its VERY rare when we use it! Well, for me anyway. My brain is usually on overdrive most days...lol.

Oh and sisters, when you want your husband to do something for you...you HAVE to ask him more than once! Seemingly the first time, it just goes in one ear and out the other.

UmZ

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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 17 September 2009 at 12:13am
Wa alekum assalaam wa rehmatullahi wabarkatuhu Sister UmZ
 
So its confirmed huh...I am weird....:)I spend too much time in my nothing box!my brain goes on overdrive too but sometimes its completely empty as well...Thank God for that...blessing in disguise....no wait....its a blesing period...otherwise I think our brains would melt:)
 
Thank you for backing me up Sister...rare or not ..we own one too:)
 
So what are the other benefits of the nothing box?
Anyone?!
 
 
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Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 18 September 2009 at 12:43am
Another point of view.....The Nature Vs Nurture debate keeps bouncing back and forth even in this scenario...
 
Charles Dickens should have written the Tale of Two Brains....!

Male brain vs. female brain I: Why do men try to figure out their relationships? Why do women talk to their cars?

Research in evolutionary psychology and related fields has uncovered the distinct ways that men’s minds and women’s minds operate. Few have made greater contribution to the discovery of the “male brain” and the “female brain” than Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, Bernard Crespi of Simon Fraser University, and my esteemed LSE colleague Christopher Badcock. So what is the male brain? What is the female brain?

The male brain is characterized by systemizing tendencies (to use Baron-Cohen’s term) and mechanistic thinking (to use Crespi and Badcock’s term). “Systemizing” is the drive to analyze, explore, and construct a system. The systemizer intuitively figures out how things work, or extracts the underlying rules that govern the behavior of a system. The purpose of this is to understand and predict the system, or to invent a new one.

In contrast, the female brain is characterized by empathizing tendencies (to use Baron-Cohen’s term) or mentalistic thinking (to use Crespi and Badcock’s term). “Empathizing” is the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to them with an appropriate emotion. Empathizing occurs when we feel an appropriate emotional reaction in response to the other person’s emotions. The purpose of this is to understand another person, to predict his or her behavior, and to connect or resonate with him or her emotionally.

The difference between “mechanism” and “mentalism” is similar to the difference between “systemizing” and “empathizing.” In short, mechanism is about figuring things out (folk physics); mentalism is about understanding people (folk psychology).

There are many individual exceptions to any empirical generalization, but exceptions do not invalidate generalizations. For example, there are many women who are taller than the average man, and there are many men who are shorter than the average woman. But the generalization “Men are on average taller than women” is still valid. Similarly, not all men have a strong male brain, and not all women have a strong female brain, but there are average differences between men and women, and men are far more likely to have the male brain and women are far more likely to have the female brain.

These sex differences emerged during the course of human evolution because men and women often faced different selection pressures. Men have come to acquire systemizing and mechanistic skills because such skills were necessary for inventing and making tools and weapons. At the same time, low empathizing ability was helpful for men in tolerating solitude during long hunting and tracking trips, and for committing acts of interpersonal violence and aggression necessary for male competition. (It is very difficult to kill other people if you strongly feel for them.) Similarly, women have come to acquire empathizing and mentalistic skills because they facilitate various aspects of mothering, such as anticipating and understanding the needs of infants who cannot yet talk, or making friends and allies in new environments, in which ancestral women found themselves upon marriage. (In the ancestral environment, women left their natal group and married into a neighboring group upon puberty, a practice necessary to avoid inbreeding.)

The late William D. Hamilton, the Oxford evolutionary biologist who is universally regarded as “the best Darwinian since Darwin,” said it best, when he noted, “People divide roughly, it seems to me, into two kinds, or rather a continuum is stretched between two extremes. There are people people, and things people.” What the recent work of Baron-Cohen and Crespi and Badcock shows is that, to a large extent, people people are women, and things people are men.

Men’s greater systemizing and mechanistic skills are the primary reasons why they are better than women at mathematics, physics, and engineering, because all of these fields deal with various rational “systems” governed by rules. Women’s greater empathizing and mentalistic skills are the primary reasons why they are better at languages and why they are better judges of character. Women also dominate primatology, which, like mothering of infants, requires understanding and reading the minds of individuals with whom they cannot communicate by language.

But these adaptive sex differences sometimes misfire and manifest themselves in comical ways. For example, men’s greater tendency toward systemizing and mechanistic thinking means that they often try to “figure out” their relationships with their girlfriends as if they are logical systems or a carburetor. They don’t realize that relationships involve other human beings with emotions and feelings, which are not always rational and logical, and they instead treat other people as if they were machines. Similarly, women often talk to their cars and copy machines, as if they had minds and feelings. They don’t realize that they cannot really relate to their cars and copy machines, because they have no feelings or emotions; they have no “minds” they can read.

On the whole, however, these sex differences are adaptive. Men and women are different because their brains function in different ways and as a result they have different strengths and weaknesses....

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
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