Do Sex Different Brains Exist?
The ongoing controversy of "sex different brains" has more research to consider. Are the male and female human brain the same, or different? It has been a hot topic in science and activism for the last century. These are my thoughts...
Ultimately, as imaging technology increases, we will see the distinctions of just about anything and everything more clearly. It is my belief this is not something to fear but a wonder of biology and evolution to recognize, acknowledge, and respect, so we can have the best possible, most thorough, relationship with life and develop education and health care protocols that address the needs of the male and female as they mature and develop during active times of brain differentiation. One size does not fit all, as we know from so many failed attempts to institute such a shortsighted approach to dealing with life from the most basic silliness of clothing sizes, and meal portions, to much more complex applications of medications formulated the same for males and females that result in radically different and detrimental affects to the body.
Some activists argue the reinforcement of distinctions leads to societal discrimination and I counter so does ignorance, particularly willful ignorance. The human brain is discriminating for the purpose of organization and classification which is necessary for basic, primal, survival. This is good, necessary, and can keep us alive in the face of real danger even in subtle threats to our physical, mental, and emotional well being. Our higher level faculties that allowed us to transform from caves and wooden clubs to a civilization and a peaceful society have, through the ages, required tempering primal fear with the greater opportunity of love, ration, reason, wonder, research, discovery, and education.
How could sex based structural brain distinctions even be possible? This research inspired me to look at this question from yet another point of view.
Our modern life today has profoundly different demands than our lives even 50 years ago let alone from the time of early human evolutionary development, between four and seven million years ago. Inside each of us is a very ancient human with needs and demands we often ignore to our peril as we are coming to understand the detriment of poor diets, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and overexposure to light, sound, and electromagnetic stimulus. These changes have created, what I hypothesize to be, a radical departure and disruption of early developmental biological patterns in the human endocrine (hormone) system. For one thing, humans didn't live very long. As we have extended the life cycle we have also created significant biological changes to the natural environment with the invention and application of all forms of organic and inorganic chemistry, including perfumes, dyes, herbicides, pesticides, medications, "food" substances and additives for preservation, inebriants... the list is nearly endless. These additions have created an accumulation of toxins in the body that cycle through inflammation, organ disfunction, disease, and death, affecting the endocrine system every step of the way, creating long lasting generational effects with DNA alteration. Now remember, no shift in the endocrine system goes without a significant affect to our neurochemisty, including our moods and mental health, further driving the system to cycle out of homeostasis and further into disease states. Interestingly, there is a significant increase in this chemical exposure in puberty and adolescence with exposure to the introduction of intriguing things like makeup, perfumes, birth control, and inebriants young children rarely encounter simply due to "age appropriate" maturation.
Along with these additions to our intimate inner and outer chemical exposure, we have changes in the roles of males and females from predominantly procreative for sustainability of the species, to the most obvious in this modern age where women work out of the home and childbirth is delayed far beyond the first menses around 11 or 12 years old, or not chosen at all, while males find themselves living much longer and fighting their battles more often on computer keyboards than anywhere. (You can probably think of many examples of these differences--I would love to read them below in the comments.)
Given this, it is pretty easy to see how the following, from the research, is occurring:
“It is well established that adolescence is a time of dynamic sex-differences in psychiatric risk. Females become disproportionately impacted by mood and anxiety disorders as compared to males. At the same time, males show a steeper spike in rule-breaking or risk-taking behaviors relative to females,” said Raznahan. “These differences might, in part, be contributed to by sex-differences in the relative timing of development for different brain systems. Our findings help pinpoint where and when we see sex-differences in developmental timing of brain regions that are important for socio-emotional functioning.”
Enjoy the article--read and learn.
Consider how you can recognize, acknowledge, and respect, this information from your own life experience, and treat your one brain, one body, even better.
Share your thoughts below.
Patricia Anahata Little BS, LMT
Brain & Lymphatic Therapy
"You get one brain, one body. Treat them well."™