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Scientists Prove Men And Women Do Not Have Different Brains

Scientists Prove Men And Women Do Not Have Different Brains

It has been suggested over the years that differences between men and women can be attributed to differently developed brains. Some think that men are better at analytics while women are more expressive, while others believe that such a difference shows that men and women are better at different academic subjects.

But a brain study appears to demonstrate that any differences between the male and female brain are highly limited. The study, done by the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, debunks the idea that the hippocampus is larger in females than in males.

What did the scientists do?

The researchers worked by looking at more than 6,000 MRI scans. The study did not actually scan the brains themselves, but instead conducted a meta-analysis which allowed researchers to combine the findings of many individual studies into one comprehensive reviews. The study looked at 76 published papers on the brain altogether and used the data to come to the conclusion that male and female brains are generally similar.

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What does this study mean?  

The hippocampus is an area of the brain located in the medial temporal lobe. It plays a crucial role in such things as handling short and long-term memories as well as navigation. Alzheimer’s disease effects the hippocampus early on, which leads to the disease’s well-known trait of memory loss.

Many people have stated that women have a larger hippocampus than men. This did not mean that women were smarter than men. But it did mean that male and female brains were supposed to be better or worse at different things.

For example, one website states, “Scientists believe that a larger hippocampus may explain females’ strong social skills. “ Meanwhile in men, the amygdala and the hypothalamus were supposed to be larger, which explained why men enjoys contact sports more, are more sexually active, and are more assertive.

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Social constructs, not biology

But as Lise Eliot, the associate professor of neuroscience at Rosalind observed, “As we explore multiple datasets and are able to coalesce very large samples of males and females, we find these differences often disappear or are trivial.”

Consequently, these assumptions that the different size of the hippocampus results in different behaviors between males and females are incorrect. It is thus reasonable to assume that it is social factors rather than biological factors which are the primary drivers for much of these supposed differences between the two sexes.

For example, men may be more sexually active just because society has different standards for a man who is sexually active and a woman who is. The former may sometimes be portrayed positively as a virile and healthy individual, while a woman almost never is.

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Other brain size myths

Furthermore, the hippocampus is not only the part of the brain which should be looked at differently. It was assumed for years that men and women did not have the same size corpus callosum and splenium. These two things are parts of the brain which helps enable communications between the right and left halves of the brain, much like a Wilson cell phone signal booster.

Meta-analysis of MRI scans of these two regions of the body showed that there are no real size differences between the female brains in regards to these two parts. The study argues that a simple look at the ratio of splenium and corpus callosum size to total brain size produces inaccurate results, and a meta-analysis is better especially since it relies on more advanced scanning technologies.

A new look at gender stereotyping

Far too often, people want to pass off societal differences between men and women, or between a black and white men, as some fact of nature which cannot be changed. But just as phrenology was debunked some 150 years ago, so too do these assistants shows that common assumptions about brain size are mistaken.

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As Dr. Eliot noted, “Many people believe there is such a thing as a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain.’ But when you look beyond the popularized studies — at collections of all the data — you often find that the differences are minimal.”

Men are not alien creatures from Mars, nor are women alien creatures from Venus. And it will be better when society can properly understand their brains and not fall back to tradition or nature to defend the normal stereotypes.

Featured photo credit: Young couple lying on grass smiling at camera on a summers day via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on June 21, 2018

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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