December 13, 2013

Two studies on Brain Wiring: the differences between the sexes and paternal deprivation

Once again, science demonstrates what we already knew.  Men and women are very different and they complement each other.  That is unless you are one of those who believe that  'social constructs' and personal preference trump biology.  What neuroscience can give us is a fresh start to understanding how diseases affect the two sexes differently.

By far the most interesting study in this past week is the last one:  the first research showing that paternal deprivation during development affects the neurobiology of the offspring.’

Science News Brain Connectivity Study Reveals Striking Differences Between Men and Women

A new brain connectivity study from Penn Medicine published today in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences found striking differences in the neural wiring of men and women that's lending credence to some commonly-held beliefs about their behavior.
"These maps show us a stark difference--and complementarity--in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others," said Verma.

For instance, on average, men are more likely better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women have superior memory and social cognition skills, making them more equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group. They have a mentalistic approach, so to speak.
"It's quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really are," said Dr. Ruben Gur.

The Anchoress comments So, Science Supports Complementarity? Why…YES!

How politically incorrect of science to suggest that men and women are not only different, but — egad! — apparently designed to complement each other. Almost as though they are meant to fulfill each other.

Men's and women's brains: the truth! As research proves the sexes' brains ARE wired differently

Neurologists used magnetic resonance imaging (radio-wave scans that produce detailed images of the inside of the body) to study the brains of almost 1,000 volunteers.  The differences between the genders were so profound that men and women might almost be separate species.

Men generally have more connections within each hemisphere and between the front and back of the brain.  In women the stronger connections usually run from side to side, between the left and right hemispheres.

In essence, what this means is that men are more logical and better at coordination and spatial awareness. Women are more intuitive, have greater 'emotional intelligence' and better memories for words and faces.

WSJ  Differences in How Men and Women Think Are Hard-Wired
Recent Studies Raise the Possibility That Male Brains Are Wired for Focus, Female Brains for Multitasking

"It certainly is incendiary," said Paul Thompson, a professor of neurology and director of the University of Southern California's Imaging Genetics Center. He is directing an effort to assemble a database of 26,000 brain scans from 20 countries to cross-check neuroimaging findings. "People who look at findings about sex differences are excited or enraged," he said.

 Male Female BrainscansCombined brain scans of 949 subjects, ages 8 to 22, show how neural connections differ by gender. Male brains, top, have more connections within hemispheres (blue lines). Female brains, bottom, have more between hemispheres (orange lines). Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences/University of Pennsylvania

Researchers are looking at the variations to explain the different ways men and women respond to health issues ranging from autism, which is more common among men, and multiple sclerosis, which is more common among women, to strokes, aging and depression. "We have to find the differences first before we can try to understand them," said Neda Jahanshad, a neurologist at USC who led the research while at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"In childhood, we did not see much difference" between male and female, Dr. Verma said. "Most of the changes we see start happening in adolescence. That is when most of the male-female differences come about."

Growing up without a father can permanently alter the BRAIN: Fatherless children are more likely to grow up angry and turn to drugs
Canadian scientists believe growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons.

Growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive and angry, scientists have warned.  Children brought up only by a single mother have a higher risk of developing ‘deviant behavior’, including drug abuse, new research suggests.
It is also feared that growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons.
Dr Gabriella Gobbi, who carried out the research with colleagues at the medical faculty at McGill University in Canada, said: ‘This is the first time research findings have shown that paternal deprivation during development affects the neurobiology of the offspring.’

The research, which was carried out on mice, compared the social behavior and brain anatomy of youngsters with two parents to those growing up with mothers alone.  The team said the findings had direct relevance to human society.  They used California mice, which, like humans, are monogamous and raise their offspring together.

Mice studies in the laboratory may therefore be clearer to interpret than human ones, where it is impossible to control all the influences during development.’
The brains of the fatherless mice developed differently, Dr Gobbi said, with the main impacts seen in the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain which controls social and cognitive activity.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 13, 2013 12:00 PM | Permalink