Ashumans, we are anatomically designed to have similar overall body structure. Weare all made up of myriads of different types of cells that eventually cometogether to construct various kinds of tissues, which in the end, make up anumber of organ systems.
Simply said, weare almost identical – our body operatesthe same way, in which they survive merely based on the five vital organs,which are the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs (Rettner, 2016). Even so,are we all really identical to one another? Notwithstanding the evidence, thereis in fact a growing consensus among all behavioural discipline that thedifference in the two genders contributes to a number of dissimilarities inhuman. Given the research hypothesis, “Thereare differences between male and female brains,” this paper seeks to particularly argue whether the statementshould be accepted.Overthe past years, there have been a list of researchers who had presented studiesin regards of the sex differences in human brains. According to Zillmer, Spiersand Culbertson (2008), the literatures that exist today mainly depictmorphological and functional differences.
However, Zaidi (2010), on the otherhand, reported an addition of two more types of brain variation (i.e.biochemical differences, and differences in brain maturation and age) in respectof the different genders. Nevertheless, with hindsight, it is understandable toinfer that the incompatibility of the sources was due to their time gap. Someof the findings that have been commonly addressed by scholars include the brainsize, in which female brains are said to be profoundly smaller and lighter ascompared to male brains (Zaidi, 2010; Zillmer et al., 2008). As foreseen, Bayatand associates (2012), through their anthropometric study, confirmed thestatement.
Additionally, when looking into the biochemical variation, one ofthe findings reported was that females, as opposed to their counterparts, arealso found to have a larger amount of serotonin receptors (Zaidi, 2010;Jovanovic, Lundberg, Karlsson, Cerin, Varrone, et al., 2007), aneurotransmitter that is responsible for several bodily functions, includingmood. This could explain the occurrence of higher cases of serotonin-associatedpsychiatric problems, such that which include depression, anxiety and suicide,in females as compared to males (Albert, 2015; Simkhada, Van Teijlingen, Winter, Fanning, Dhungel et al., 2015; Afifi, 2007).Thatbeing so, given all the references of the dissimilarities between men andfemale brains in many aspects, I would argue that the hypothesis, which read, “There are differences in male and femalebrains,” ought to be accepted dueto the evidences from two standpoints; cultural influences towards braindevelopment, and the brain lateralization theory.Cultural ExperiencesOne ofthe perspectives that could explain the hypothesis is the cultural experiences.The word ‘culture’ itself, as explained by Shiraev and Levy (2014), conveys themeaning of a set of (1) attitudes, which include beliefs, values andstereotypes, (2) behaviours, that comprise of norms, customs, traditions, andhabits, and (3) symbols, that represent things of which the meaning areaccorded on them by people. Exclusively, they are shared by a large group of individuals,and are usually being passed down from one generation to the next.
For anyculture, there must be some sort of unique life styles and thinking modes thatits people stand upon. Let ustake the concept of politeness as an instance. Generally, politeness is acommon phenomenon that happens in all culture. Linguistically, politenessrefers to the way an individual being polite to others using language (Keikhaie& Mozaffari, 2013). People from different sociolinguistics (this includessex-gap) developmentally learn to do different things with language (Xia, 2013).Female linguistic politeness, in accordance to Gu (2013), could be explained byone of Robin Lakoff’s major features of the ‘female language’, in which shedescribed extensively in her book Languageand Women’s Place (1973).
Linguistic politeness in females is presumablycaused by their upbringing to do so in order to meet the societal requirements.Consequently, the ‘female language’ points out the super-polite form oflanguage (Gu, 2013). The following sentences should illustrate the super-politeform of ‘female language’:Man: I don’t want to go out with you.
Woman: I’msorry, we’ve just met. We should get to know each other better before weproceed. From the exemplar,it could be seen that the female character is much more polite and uses a ratherindirect way of speaking as compared to the male character.
In today’s context, linguisticpoliteness in females could still be seen in almost every culture, for instancein Islamic women, who would lower down the intonation and pitch of their voicewhen communicating with men (Samarah, 2015). Takingeverything into account, the ‘female language’ described by Lokaff indicated howfemales are prevail in their language. As the given exemplar, in order forfemales to maintain their linguistic politeness, they have to have an organizedarray of vocabulary. This can be supported by few empirical studies, whichfound female’s superiority in language abilities (Davison, 2012; Zellmer etal., 2008). Fascinatingly, Xia (2013)explained this superiority in terms of evolutionary psychology, where shehighlighted the two sexes’ difference in social status. Males are shown to bemore privileged in the society compared to females in many researches, forexample in their educational opportunity. Thus, in order to have a betterposition in the society, women try to improve themselves, which includes interms of their language abilities for that is one of the main means ofcommunication.
What’s more, in our effort of relating the exemplar to neurologicalaspect, it could be regarded to the speech areas in the brain, in which femalesare found to have significantly larger Broca and Wernicke areas, both of whichare responsible for language, specifically speech production and comprehensionrespectively (Davison, 2012; Zaidi, 2010; Zellmer et al., 2008). Upon reflection, it could be deduced that it is dueto the experiences they collect from when they were being brought up, as wellas their constant determination to be seen as an equal to men, women have theadvantage of surpassing male in the language aspect of life, being that theyare better at organizing and uttering their speech.
Brain Lateralization Fromanother viewpoint, the hypothesis could be supported using the brainlateralization theory. As described by Zillmer et al. (2008), the term ‘brainlateralization’ means that the two hemispheres of our brain are not exactlyalike. Interestingly, each hemisphere of the brain has functionalspecialization, whereby some functions have neural networks that are onlyconfined in one half of the brain, that is, either left or right. Today, brainlaterality between different genders are increasingly studied by scholars andresearchers, and might also be inferred as one of the reasons responsible forthe sex difference in human’s cognitive styles (Proust-Lima, Amieva, Letenneur,Orgogozo, Jacqmin-Gadda, 2008; Zillmer et al., 2008).
To betterunderstand the concept of brain laterality, let us take spatial skills as anexample. Conceptually, spatial skill is one’s ability to understand, reason andremember the spatial relations among objects and/or locations (Pellegrino,Alderton & Shute, 1984). In many sources, it was revealed that males are generallysuperior in visuo-spatial abilities as compared to their female counterparts.In resultant to that, most of them would have a stronger rightwardlateralization (Tomasi & Volkow, 2011), which can be structurally reflectedin the increased leftward asymmetry of male’s brain (Zillmer et al., 2008).Silverman, Choi and Peters (2007) corroborated the anatomical evidence throughtheir study, which assessed the universality of gender-related spatialabilities. As expected, their male subjects outperformed the females on aspatial test of three-dimensional mental rotations (3DMR).
In addition to that,Upadhayay and colleague (2014) also supported the evidence when their researchfound that the males were better than the females in tests of visuo-spatialability, which include the Visual Reaction Time (VRT) test.Suchoccurrence could be explained by an evolutionary theory, namely theHunter-Gatherer Theory of Spatial Sex Differences, which was proposed bySilverman and Eals in 1992 (Silverman et al., 2007). According to the theory, duringthe Pleistocene period, males were first and foremost hunters.
They weretrained to have the competence for tracking and hunting animals on random andunfamiliar routes and at the same time must be able to stay oriented with theirlocation in order to direct themselves home. This is consistent with Jones,Braithwaite and Healy’s (2003) Male Foraging hypothesis, which was also proposedbased upon the labour divisions in humans. They supported the hypothesis withseveral findings, some of which described men to be more accurate than women atgeographical tasks, such as way-finding in forest areas.Conversely,despite the superiority men possess in spatial skills, it is unfair to say thatfemales have a poor ability to perform such skills.
Based on the same theorymentioned above, females, too, have presumably a certain amount ofextraordinary spatial capabilities for according to the labour divisions in theolden days, they were gatherers (Silverman, Choi & Peters, 2007).Obviously, females were able to learn and remember the configurations of plantsand vegetables under a short period of time. However while this might be astrong argument, studies have found that the women’s spatial skills are best insolely two aspects of the competency, which are incidental memory (which letsthem to memorize objects’ locations using landmark strategy) and peripheralperception. All in all, in regards of visuo-spatial abilities, males are stillsuperior to women, which evidently being shown by the leftward asymmetry ofmales’ brain due to their exceptional brain laterality of the spatial function.
Torecap, there has been significant amount of researches that demonstrated thedifferences between male and female brains, including in terms of its structures,functions, biochemical differences, as well as maturation. However, of thereading undertaken to date, there is still a gap in knowing the culturalimpacts on human’s brain in regards of gender differences. It is recommendable thatfuture researchers and scholars make this paper as a starting point to furtherinvestigate this particular area. In conclusion, the hypothesis, which reads, “There are differences in male and femalebrains,” is failed to berejected.
This paper had supported it with arguments from two viewpoints, whichare cultural experiences, and brain lateralization.