Women and men

There are always discussions about the differences between women and men. From science many times differences can be found, for example in the study of certain disorders that affect differently between women and men

For example, with the data on autism they vary a lot because they also depend on the difficulties of diagnosis, but on average four men are diagnosed for every woman. The autism is the most striking syndrome, although the male / female asymmetry also applies to disorder disorders such as attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia , as well as many others.

 Definition Female individual Male individual
Chromosomes They genetically possess sex chromosomes XX Genetically possesses XY sex chromosomes
 They contribute to fertilization Ovulos Sperm
 Hormones Estrogens and progesterone Testosterone
 Body temperature Usually core temperature Balanced temperature throughout the body due to its muscle mass.
 Senses They have greater hearing and olfactory acuity. They have greater visual acuity
 Concentration They can perform several simultaneous tasks They focus better on a single task
 Tendency to baldness Less Mayor
 Sexual drive Lower due to lower androgen production Higher due to increased androgen production

If certain conditions, such as autism, affect men and women differently , this suggests diversity in the functioning between the female brain and the male brain.In the case of autism, therefore, the debate is intense. Surprisingly, it has been found that in the few women in whom an autism spectrum disorder is found there are many more genetic mutations than men, which led to the idea of ​​the female protection model. In men, that is, fewer mutations would be needed to develop the disease. However, the genetic issue of autism is far from clear, in the sense that hundreds of genes related to it have been identified, but only a minority of autism have known genetic abnormalities.

Another interesting hypothesis is that the difference in the manifestation of autism has more to do with the way the female brain and the male brain function , rather than the genes involved. The theory known as extreme-male-brain, according to which the brain of the autistic subject would be excessively masculinized, was very successful in this diversity, which would give the female brain a kind of protective capacity against autistic symptoms.
With regard to neuroanatomy, the literature describes significant structural differences in male and female autism; not only that, it also resorts to hormonal factors. In fact, from fetal development, the role of hormones is fundamental for direct male or female development, for example, it seems that imbalances of steroid hormones increase the risk of autism5. Although much remains to be done to understand the basic concepts of autism, it is clear that, faced with this pathology, the weaker sex is the male.

What are women?

Women or female persons. Their overall shape differs from that of men as they have a marked waist, wider hips, softer skin, and a higher voice than men’s. They are in charge of the reproductive function. Although women have always been considered belonging to the weaker sex, in recent decades these myths have been demolished.

The March 8 is Women ‘s Day.

What are men?

Men are masculine people. They have certain biological and physiological qualities that are different from women. The production of the hormone testosterone causes your body to have more hair, muscle and the growth of the ‘nut’. Testosterione also causes men to be more aggressive than women and a greater sense of competitiveness.

Hormones and asymmetries

The just-mentioned role of hormones deserves further study: Many studies have shown that hormones influence the cognitive and behavioral sphere , as well as motor coordination, mood, pain, and more. However, they also intervene in the configuration of functional brain asymmetries , which determine the performance of tasks with different efficacy between men and women.

A classic is the case of language , in whose implementation women on average surpass males, unlike spatial skills such as orientation and spatial attention , in which males generally prevail. Actually, these are the most famous data, but recent studies also deny these differences: especially with regard to spatial skills, they can be more pronounced in relation, rather than by sex, for the type of experiences carried out, for example, through games. Thus, the variable “sex”, instead of being conditioned by biology, in this case seems to depend on the educational model.

In general, it appears that, in women, functional asymmetries of the brain are reduced , suggesting that lateralization is less in women. A cerebral hemisphere is dominant depending on the task we are carrying out, for example, the left dominates the right while performing language activities. This lateralization activity tends to be less in women in whom interhemispheric cooperation tends to be greater, at least according to current research.

Brain, inflammation and drugs

We remain in the brain but we change the pathology. Ischemic attacks are a very important cause of death and disability. It has always been assumed that men are at higher risk, but it has also been discovered since the age of 85 and more women than men succumb to a stroke. Male / female asymmetry is not just about risk, but also about how brain damage occurs, the type of effective medications, rehabilitation, and comorbidity. Despite this, even in 2009, only 38% of animal studies on strokes used female models.

The perception of pain is another point where men and women differ significantly . For example, the analgesic effect of morphine is less in women, who need 2-3 times higher doses than men to achieve the same effect. The migraine , a condition in which pain is a debilitating symptom affects more women than to men s.

In the pharmacological field , it is known that the absorption, metabolization and elimination of drugs is different between men and women, but no drug shows different doses according to sex. Sedation even works differently, women wake up from anesthesia faster and with more side effects than men.

Brain and behavior

Now that you are clear on some important differences in terms of disease, it is now worth taking a look at what science can tell us about behavior. Is there something in the brain that justifies, in this regard, the differences between men and women? The problem here is the difficulty of being able to extrapolate behaviors that are not influenced by culture because, as we know, boys and girls have a different education , depending on the expectations of the society that will host them.

A classic type of study, confirmed in several works, assesses preferences regarding gender stereotypes. It is known that, on average, boys prefer to spend time with objects such as cars , while girls prefer dolls.But since the reverse is also possible (children can play with a little of everything), how can any biological predisposition be distinguished from cultural conditioning? Useful information is obtained from studies of primates, in which the same preferences are found on average: dolls for females and toy cars for males. Newborn studies are also useful: women aged 1 to 2 days have been found to prefer looking at images of faces (social input) while children of the same age prefer the image of objects (mechanical input).

The problem with these studies is that they have almost never been repeated, even including corrections, so these are cases that would wait to be confirmed by other tests (animals and newborns are much more difficult subjects for researchers and studies of gender is a bit of a minefield). Is it plausible that evolution has favored the formation of patterns of behavioral predisposition in primates? If confirmed, the preference for dolls would have a clear connection with the future reproductive and protective investment of the offspring, but what is the role of the male preference for non-social objects?

Women, men and neuroesthetics

Staying in the field of behavior, a reference to neuroesthetics can be interesting, a discipline that studies the neural correlates of the perception of beauty with modern neuroimaging techniques, from functional nuclear magnetic resonance to magnetoencephalography.

In 2009, a study by Cela-Conde and her collaborators used magnetoencephalography to reveal any difference between the aesthetic perception of men and women, who were asked to indicate whether a proposed theme was beautiful or not. In the study, the perception of an object as “beautiful” activated the prefrontal parietal regions, which are the site for the elaboration of spatial relationships, in both men and women, but the activity was bilateral in women, whereas the limited to ‘right hemisphere in men (in line with the fact that in women there is less asymmetry between the hemispheres).

The authors of the study have tried to explain this phenomenon by tracing it to the two different ways of elaborating the spatial relationships between objects: one refers to the relationship between their positions (categorical spatial processing) and takes place in the left hemisphere, the other implies The metric elaboration of the distances between objects (coordinated spatial processing) mainly involves the right hemisphere. The men, therefore, would prefer to be based on the coordinated elaboration of the spatial relations with preference in the local aspects , the women would prefer the categorical type, but combining the preference in the global and local aspects.

To interpret this result, the authors propose an evolutionary point of view, referring to the well-known collector / hunter theory of the division of labor in our ancestors. Men would have been more busy hunting and defending, while women would have been more dedicated to researching and harvesting the fruits of the earth. The elaboration of spatial relationships in a coordinated way would confer greater advantages for the action of hunting, while the recognition of the relationships between objects and their contents is an advantageous strategy for the action of collecting food. Since the areas of appreciation of beauty and the elaboration of spatial relationships are the same, it can reasonably be hypothesized that the two processes have something in common, namely, that the appreciation of aesthetic stimuli has something to do with the elaboration of spatial relationships. If recognition and appreciation of the object are linked, it can be assumed that they have been formed by the same evolutionary path, determined in turn by the aforementioned division of tasks.

This path would be exclusive to Homo sapiens, since the prefrontal parietal region is evolutionarily recent, in fact, we do not share it with primates. In short, women and men would use different cognitive strategies to assess beauty , but in any case they made art an inheritance from human experience.

Attention to evolution

The evolutionary approach relates multiple disciplines but it is still very hypothetical, very often the hypotheses are made ad hoc, even with a certain reluctance to refute them with new proposals. Even the hunter-gatherer theory could have limitations, for example, having been built on the basis of a purely male view of the possible division of gender roles.

The idea of ​​a greedy and ruthless hunter, for example, was very successful in the 20th century, after Raymond Dart discovered, in 1924, the pierced skull of the Taung boy who lived 2.3 million years ago, belonging to the species. Australopithecus and concluded that his companions had savagely murdered him. In reality, things don’t seem to be that way (the skull has signs of predators other than human), because for most of our evolutionary history we have been prey rather than predator and to become carnivores we had to learn to use fire. to sharpen us. of valid weapons and also adapt our digestive system.

Here, then, is how the story of our unstable hunter is greatly shortened on the timeline (see “The Hunted Man,” Hart & Sussman). Hunting, which was very dangerous and expensive, was not a regular occupation: it is more likely that the activity of gathering small plants and animals was the basis of daily life in a cooperative way between the two sexes.. Also the data from the observation of chimpanzees (the closest relatives we have in the animal world) show an important female participation in most of the food supply work. It is also useful to note that in the few modern hunter-gatherer societies that survive, most of the daily calories come from the gathering and hunting of small animals by women.

These recent data from anthropology lead us to take certain theories given as established with more caution. In general, it may be necessary to reflect on how often in science it happens that certain lines of study are vitiated by monothematic and partial environments, both in the formulation of hypotheses and in the discriminatory choice of the samples to be analyzed and, finally, in drawing conclusions.

equality between women and men

In reality, we are much more equal than different . Think about the characteristics that have evolved in parallel between men and women. The bipedal posture has allowed us to be adept at doing many things, including looking to the horizon, manipulating and forging objects, walking and running long distances even in the scorching sun, thanks to a body equipped to expel heat inward. Very efficiently. In our evolutionary past, this must have been really helpful in surviving, escaping predators, and migrating across the planet. Meanwhile, our brain also became enriched with experiences and possibilities, increasing its size and connections. Thanks to this evolutionary leap, we have created a great gap with the rest of the animal world.

In our evolution from primates, the role of mothers in transmitting their culture to their children must have been very important, given the preponderant role of women in caring for their offspring. And immediately after the mothers, a unique network of relationships in nature: fathers, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers, etc. Perhaps these contributions have not yet been sufficiently considered when weighing the evolutionary drive of the division of gender roles and, probably, also of the gender specialization of our brains.

Small differences between women and men

At this point, it would be helpful to look at diversity to give them proper weight. On the one hand, they must be truly valuable as a result of an expensive evolutionary family history; on the other, they are essential for health care, chance, the latter, in which they really must be placed under the magnifying glass. In addition, it must be said that, from the point of view of neuroscience, the need to know how to contextualize diversity arose. This is because it has also been pointed out that when comparing the brains of two random subjects with the most modern neuroimaging techniques, there are always differences!

In conclusion, we should review our ways of seeing and conceptualizing differences: for example, what other categories can we use, besides sex, to identify discrepancies? After that, it narrows. Then, by narrowing the focus on the sexes, what role did the correlated dimensions of biology and culture play in creating the male-female diversity that we can find in the various areas? Perhaps before answering we should work a little more: in addition to the new planning of experimental hypotheses, we should improve the understanding of the data that we have, reconsidering many in light of the fact that science and culture with two voices, male and female , have the advantage to express the truth potential of 100 percent of humanity, instead of 50 percent,

A great stimulus is directed, then, to the diversification of explanations, theories, models and reflections that will arise from the knowledge built thanks to the great amount of possibilities inherent to the collaboration between those subjects that support the differences that intrigue us: women and men , precisely.

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