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Health & Sex

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Scans May Support Venus/Mars Divide Between Sexes

Study analyzed brain 'wiring' of kids, teens and young adults

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- While not every woman is intuitive or every man handy with tools, neurological scans of young males and females suggest that -- on average -- their brains really do develop differently.

The research comes with a caveat: It doesn't connect the brain-scan findings to the actual ways that these participants behave in real life. And it only looks at overall differences among males and females.

Still, the findings "confirm our intuition that men are predisposed for rapid action, and women are predisposed to think about how things feel," said Paul Zak, who's familiar with the study findings.

"This really helps us understand why men and women are different," added Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California.

Researchers Ragini Verma, an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues used scans to explore the brains of 428 males and 521 females aged 8 to 22.

The goal was to better understand the connectivity in the brain, Verma said, and determine if certain types of wiring are in good shape or like a road "that could be broken or has a bad rough patch that needs to be covered over."

The study found that, on average, the brains of men seem to be better equipped to comprehend what people perceive and how they react to it. Females, on average, appear to be better able to connect the parts of their brains that handle analysis and intuition.

"It starts when they're young," Verma said. "It manifests itself when they are adolescents."

To put the results another way, "men's brains are biased toward rapid understanding of a situation and how to respond to it, especially in how to act and move in response to information," Claremont's Zak said. "Women's brains are biased toward integrating information with feelings."

The findings suggest the hormones that begin to kick in during adolescence push the male and female brains in different directions, he said.

What does all this mean in the context of people's day-to-day lives?

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