So how do we explain to our female students such complex results? The media
(and our minds) oversimplify into girls are inferior in spatial and
skills to boys, and therefore, are less suited to careers like engineering
where such skills are important. As reported by one teacher I spoke to, one
of his female math honors students said "Give me a break-I only have a GIRL

>Warnings-To: <>
>Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 08:28:48 -0500
>X-PH: V4.1@r02n08
>From: "John W. Kulig" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
>Reply-To: "John W. Kulig" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
>X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.05 (Macintosh; U; PPC)
>Subject: Re: Gender Gaps on the Brain
>On the same topic, I just received a copy of an article on sexual differences
>in the cortex. Men, it seems, have more neurons in the cortex, but women have
>more neuronal processes (braching) per neuron. The reference:
>de Courten-Myers, G.M. (1999) The Human Cerebral Cortex: Gender Differences in
>Structure and Function. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.
>58 (3), 217-226.
>de Courten-Myers is an M.D. at the University of Cincinnati Med School (Dept
>of Pathoogy and Medicine). A quick glance shows that she integrates her own
>work on structural cortical differences with disease data (e.g. dementia) and
>psychometric data (cognitive, spatial tasks) and even Kimura's earlier work on
>hormones. This is her final paragraph of the paper, followed by the abstract
>of the paper:
>Conclusion: superimposed on a strong background of functional and structural
>equality, human male and female cerebral cortex displays distinct, sexually
>dimorphic features and a complex array of gender-specific advanatges and
>limitations regarding cognitive functions which are manifest in both health
>and disease. "Vive la difference!"
>Abstract:  Most people are aware of subtle differences in cognitive functions
>between men and women. Psychometric tests confirm specific gender differences
>in a number of areas. the most robust being in spatial orientation and
>mathematical tasks which are better performed by males. Nonetheless. normal
>males and females perform comparably on intelligence tests and
>j      human brains lack sexual dimorphism on routine neuropathological exams~ther
>than mean differences in weight and size. Even so, human brains demonstrate:
>I) a sexually dimorphic nucleus in the hypothalamus with twofold neuronal
>numbers in males than infemales; 2) the planum temporale/anterior Sylvian
>fissure on the left side are larger in males; 3) some studies reveal the
>posterior corpus callosum to be more bulbous in females while others fail to
>show this difference; and 4) a cytoarchitectural study demonstrates definite
>sexual dimorphism of cerebral cortex with significantly higher neuronal
>densities and neuronal number estimates in males and a reciprocal increase in
>neuropil/neuronal processes in female cortex as implied by the 2 sexes'
>similar mean cortical thicknesses.
>Such morphologic differences may provide the structural underpinning for the
>gender differences exhibited by the normal and diseased brain. Males manifest
>a higher prevalence of mental retardation and of learning disabilities than
>females which may reflect the male fetus' smaller overproduction of nerve
>cells. Such an inference is supported by the demonstration of 1) better
>functional recovery following early brain injury than after later insults, 2)
>substantially overproduced and secondarily reduced nerve cells in human
>cerebral cortex during gestation, 3) the demonstration of a similar neuronal
>production and a testosterone-dependent neuronal involution of the sexually
>dimorphic hypothalamic nucleus in rats, and 4) more cortical neurons present
>in the adult human male than female. If an overproduced nerve cell population
>is capable of compensating for pathologic nerve cell losses taking place
>during the process of neuronal involution, the magnitude of overproduced nerve
>cells may define the extent of the protection conveyed. Because male fetuses
>appear to involute fewer overproduced cortical neurons than females, this
>gender difference could explain in part the boys' greater functional
>impairments from early brain damage.
>Women, on the other hand. exhibit a higher incidence and prevalence of
>dementia than do men. Given the females' overall larger extent of cortical
>neuropil (neuronal processes) and lower neuronal numbers compared with men,
>any disease that causes neuronal loss could be expected to lead to more severe
>functional deficits in women due to their loss of more dendritic connections
>per neuron lost.
>In conclusion, superimposed on a strong background of functional and
>structural equality, human male and female cerebral cortex display distinct,
>sexually dimorphic features, which can begin to be linked to a complex array
>of gender-specific advantages and limitations in cognitive functions.
>Ron Blue wrote:
>> Gender Gaps on the Brain
>* John W. Kulig, Department of Psychology  ************************
>* Plymouth State College      Plymouth NH 03264                   *
>* [EMAIL PROTECTED]       *
>*  "I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest      *
>*                parts of the earth" - Psalm 139                  *

Dawn G. Blasko Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Station Road
Erie, PA 16563-1501
phone: 814-898-6081

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