BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.

"DIFFICILE EST SATURAM NON SCRIBERE"

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Male Brain - Female Brain

Click on image to enlarge it
~*~
I just did one of those tests that supposedly work out whether you have a male brain or a female brain. My inspiration to do such a thing was because I have heard many people state quite emphatically that men and women do NOT think the same way from a biological point of view. And that our differences have little to do with how we are raised and more to do with brain chemistry, but specifically the effects of male or female hormones upon the developing brain.
~*~
Somehow, this supposedly impacts upon neurological function which is then equated to the ability to perform certain mental tasks. Let me state from the outset that I am more than slightly skeptical. I know you are all shocked that I am skeptical of this, or anything else for that matter, as I am SO willing to accept whatever I am told at face value.
~*~
So, to cut a long story short, I did the test. And surprise, surprise, I have a "female brain." This could have something to do with the fact that I AM female, or it could have something to do with the test testing for that which it expects to be the results. I didn't see any science associated with this. By this I mean, how did they ascertain that it is the result of hormones which make the difference in the way a female or a brain works? Where is the scientific process that shows this?
~*~
For example: Many people will undoubtedly say that males have better spatial ability. As a general rule, I also consider this to be true. I certainly recognise that my spatial ability is rubbish and this was also evidenced by the test. But what sort of tests were undertaken as scientific process to show that it is the difference in male or female hormones which is the influencing factor?
~*~
I mean, did they conduct experiments with rats and ascertain that male rats on average find their way through a maze faster and with a greater degree of accuracy than female rats? Or did they assume that there ARE differences in how the brains of males and females work and then assume that these differences must be the result of hormonal differences?
~*~
I don't know. As I said, I haven't seen the science on this. But I do know that correlation doesn't equal causation. So, show me the science. How is environment, nurture, upbringing and experience factored out? Surely this is a variable that must be taken into consideration with human beings when attempting to ascertain differences in how the brain works? I have the suspicion that what they have tested is the result of environmental factors as much as anything else.
~*~
I suspect that this test has similarities to a survey done a couple of years ago by a specific banking institution. The banking institution in question had over a period of years removed many of its branches in towns and rural areas as a cost cutting measure. It then had installed automatic telling machines in many of these areas as substitution for the branches. A couple of years down the track, they conducted a survey which stated that people prefered to access automatic teller machines rather than to access a regional branch staffed by bank employees.
~*~
Of COURSE they prefered to access automatic teller machines. They prefered to have access to their money rather than NO access. What I am saying is - There was NO real choice. The survey was loaded towards the specifically desired conclusion. The survey was prejudicial towards people prefering ATM over branches. They did NOT factor into the survey the reality that an environmental factor played a part in their result. The environmental factor ignored was that the regional branches no longer existed.
~*~
I suspect that this test has similar flaws. Where large percentages of female children are still not encouraged to participate in games which build and develop spatial awareness, (that is, metaphorically bank branches that do not exist); how does this test or any other test be a realistic indicator of nature over nurture?
~*~

"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice." - Albert Einstein



David Gilmour and Roger Waters discuss the writing and recording of "Brain Damage" from Dark Side of the Moon.

~*~

Now on this test, which I also did for a bit of fun, the results are different. Should I be concerned that within a 2 day period my brain has transmogrified into a male one?

Your Brain is 33% Female, 67% Male

You have a total boy brain
Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts
And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...
You never like to get feelings too involved.



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25 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always score male on those tests. I think they're more geared towards whether or not you are a visual-spatial learner/Right brain (which many more males tend to be) or not. As an artist & an engineer, I've always done well with the visual spatial. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_thinking It took me quite a ways into life to realize not everybody can visualize stuff in their head like that, especially females.

9/12/06 12:27 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

Thanks for that Beep, I didn't realise how easy that one was to play...:)

That's an interesting survey and you ask some interesting questions. I was neither man nor woman, go figure... My result was a big fat 0. I'd like to see the science behind this one too I think...

Or, did your article subconciously influence the way I answered (I read it before I did the test)? Hmmm...:)

9/12/06 2:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from past experience, i expected to register as having a male brain, and that's exactly what i got. i agree with new.atheist in that it's probably mostly because, as an engineer, i'm very good at visual/spatial perception, maps 'n' stuff.

9/12/06 10:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from past experience, i expected to register as having a male brain, and that's exactly what i got. i agree with new.atheist in that it's probably mostly because, as an engineer, i'm very good at visual/spatial perception, maps 'n' stuff.

9/12/06 10:48 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE : new atheist and tribbles

Yes, I agree. At least a sizable proportion of these tests are testing knowledge based in experience, which suggests to me that the "hormone theory" is NOT telling the whole story.

I have women friends who are scientists and one who is an engineer and I am pretty sure that they would score with a "male brain" as well according to this test.

10/12/06 1:22 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ted:
Yes, I think the science in this is questionable as well.

I scored as I expected, as I knew that I would not score well in the spatial knowledge components.

The matching the face to the emotion was, on the otherhand, a piece of cake. I didn't miss one of those. Juding by that, I would suggest that no man lie to me if I can see his face. lol

10/12/06 1:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I scored 50/50. I was very male on half of it and very female on the other.
I'm male by the way, at least anatomically.
I think you're taking this test too seriously, it's on the bbc website! and it's only a test. Definitely not science.
Even if the hormonal theory is correct 100% and no other factors are involved in our brain development i find pretty semplicistic to assess "brain sexuality" with a simple test (as IQ)
The Hormon theory can of course explain a few things but it's definitely not the only factor influencing the way we think.
And we have to remember as well that there's no such thing as 100% male or female which means that hormons definitely have some influence on brain development (as on many other organs and tissues) but being our brain such a complicated structure there are many other factors to take into account (mainly environmental/social/cultural).
It's also important to remember that the test itself deals with averages and not absolutes, and that in some cases women and men score the same with no differences (why include such a question?).
I think, personally, that sexual hormons have a strong impact on our development (brain and thinking included) but that there are no strict boundaries (both biologically and psicologically) and different set of skills can shift from one sex to another depending on several other factors. This is especially true in humans where the cultural and social compenent are extremely powerful.
Our brain is a very adaptable and sofisticated organ, there's much more then hormons.

10/12/06 4:16 am  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

What is even worse, is the "scientific" definitions of beauty.

10/12/06 6:25 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jones

I agree that hormones will play a part in the development of the brain, as will environment etc.

What I am interested in, or concerned about, is the willingness to assign and attribute specific male or female behaviours in the brain according to the influence of hormones.

I think there is a certain amount of leaping to conclusions associated with this.

Example: On the advantage of having some cortical areas of asymmetry in the male:

"In general, male behavior involves finding and defending his territory and finding his female, all rather focused functions, possibly benefiting from an asymmetrical cortex."

I consider this a leap.

10/12/06 10:16 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

from : Male and Female Brains
http://www.newhorizons.org/neuro/diamond_male_female.htm

10/12/06 10:18 am  
Anonymous ted said...

I would suggest that no man lie to me if I can see his face.

Most women are pretty good at that in my experience Beep. Or maybe I'm just crap at lying...:)

Like Jones though, my result was very male in half and very female in the other. I also have to agree that although there's no doubt hormones play a role in sculpting our bodies, there are many other factors involved when it comes to thought process.

10/12/06 1:14 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ted:
I agree.

I see a lot of conservative thinkers jumping on these tests in a desire to promote political policy which best suits their religious belief system.

It goes kind of like this: "See, I told you that women should stay at home and look after the house and a man's needs - her female hormones have made her brain develop so it is best suited to this role."

This sort of pseudo - scientific approach which complies with a specific political/social belief makes me gag.

So, I am wary of tests and srudies like this which may be based in as much as wishful thinking as anything else.

10/12/06 1:47 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

Well, on the second test I got exactly the same result as you did Beep. At least I'm male now...:)

10/12/06 5:52 pm  
Anonymous remy said...

I'm 40% female.
This is so culturally based as to be meaningless. Fun, but of no consequence.

I hate myself for this , but over these many years of reading (where I never thought I'd have to prove my opinion) I have arrived at a belief that there are physical differences beyond the obvious. The research I have seen into brain function indicates differences in language ability as well as memory. I do, however, remain skeptical.
As to evidence, I think I'll wait for the venerable K to post as he seems to have a lot at his tingerfips because I'm vewy, vewy lazy.

11/12/06 2:04 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Got 47%/53% (last test).
Most online tests are fun, but are highly suspect.
I actually took a leadership test a while back - it had both shorter & extended questionaires.
The 18-question survey(?) put me at the same level as Saddam Hussein, the 36-question put me at Gandhi.
Great way to fritter away a few minutes, but nothing I'd put stock in.

Reminds me of a joke:
Guy's going in for a brain transplant. He asks the doctor for some pricing.
"Let's see, sir," says the doctor, "That'll be 10,000 for the male brain, & 5,000 for the female brain."
"10,000! How come the female brain is so much cheaper?" asks the patient.
"It's been used," says the doctor.
(rim shot)

11/12/06 3:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what you mean beep but that's just strumentalize and you can strumentalize virtually anything today.
The fact is that there are differences (in average) in the way we process informations.
When you say:
"In general, male behavior involves finding and defending his territory and finding his female, all rather focused functions, possibly benefiting from an asymmetrical cortex."

I consider this a leap.

I consider it an hypothesis and I want to underline again that we are speaking of averages here ("in general").
Wright wing morons will use it as they want tho, like with darwin :)

PS. I scored 12 out of 12 too on the faces test. I must be homosexual or a female?

11/12/06 4:27 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jones: I agree that hormones will have an influence on our brains, our minds, our thoughts and how we think.

It is what this influence is, that I consider to be debatable.

For instance, just speaking specifically on hormones and brain physiology - do male lions also have an asymmetrical cortex as the result of male hormones? And if so, how can this be demonstrated to be associated with the biological need to focus behaviour?

A better example might be the brain of male chimpanzees. Do they also show brain asymmetry and if so, what biological advantage does this represent? (I will assume an advantage for the sake of argument.)

I suspect that there is a considerable amount of shoehorning happening when supposing brain structure and function.

That is, certain behaviours are assumed male and others female, then it becomes a case of pick from the list of assumed male behaviours and attribute the existence of this "male behaviour" to the existence of a difference in male brain structure.

Now, I could be wrong, but the desire to attribute parts of the brain to specific behaviours is as old as Methuselah (biblical reference for the believers) - phrenology comes to mind.

(Reading bumps on the head and attributing certain attributes to these bumps.)

11/12/06 10:13 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ka:

An oldie but still funny. :)

11/12/06 10:14 am  
Blogger Kristine said...

Your Brain is 40% Female, 60% Male

You have a total boy brain
Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts
And while your emotions do sway you sometimes...
You never like to get feelings too involved


Oh, yeah. I never like to get feelings too involved.

That's why I just threw plates at the whole loveable gang at UD after a certain moderator there and I made smoochies (long story).

I'm a total boy! Don't I look it? ;-)

11/12/06 1:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beep,
you surprise me this time,
said that i cant see any science in these kind of tests, i have to say also that science doesnt work the way you're assuming this time...
science doesnt start from a "desire" to demonstrate something and I'd strongly doubt of anyone who'd tell me a behaviour is assumed to be male or female, any decent study considers a behaviour predominantly or more present in males or females, without assuming any difference in brain structure or function. That's just one of the hypothesis you can test among the many and i think that testing the effect of hormons is fully justified by a lot of other information, as much as the effect of culture, bias, education etc. But I understand your point and I find these tests not only stupid but also confusing and wrong coz they are not correctly explained and pass the idea that a certain behaviour is tipically female or male while the truth is that some behaviours are just more common in one of the two sexes but this doesn't mean that are not present in the other; they're patterns tipical of both sexes, just present in different percetages.

11/12/06 9:11 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jones:

I don't think we disagree. I raised the questions I did because they seem to indicate that these tests are pseudo-science.

11/12/06 11:21 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

jones:
I know what you mean beep but that's just strumentalize and you can strumentalize virtually anything today.
The fact is that there are differences (in average) in the way we process informations.

Maybe you could do me a favor, & translate the word 'strumentalize'? I can somewhat guess its meaning from the context, but it doesn't seem to be in any dictionary.
When you say:
"In general, male behavior involves finding and defending his territory and finding his female, all rather focused functions, possibly benefiting from an asymmetrical cortex."

I (unlike many) see no problems w/designating or categorizing some behaviors as gender specific. Men are hunter/gatherers, women are nesters/nurturers.
I read a study (I think it was in Omni, many years ago) that put forth that men are pre-wired to be more physical as well as mechanistically inclined, while women are pre-wired to be more dextrous and adept at communal interactions.
These items tend to be gender-specific, but by no means are they static: a man is capable of doing anything a woman can do, & vice-versa. It's just a little extra work, is all.

12/12/06 7:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krystalline,
I'm sorry, my english often fails...
Strumentalize is (in Italian) the attemptof using some information, that in reality have very little to do with the real problem, to prove your point. In the process you deliberately leave out the information you dont like and keep the ones you like, often giving them new meaning that fits better your point.
I completely agree with you.
And with beep when she says the tests are bollocks. What I meant was that the far right will always use all sort of information bending them as they like to prove their distorted and sick ideas.

12/12/06 11:54 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

jones:
Hey, thanks, learned a new word! How cool is that?
What I meant was that the far right will always use all sort of information bending them as they like to prove their distorted and sick ideas.
As will the far left.
I'm a leftist, but there are those on my side of the fence I'd prefer NOT to rub shoulders with.

13/12/06 8:20 am  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

OMG! My brain is 80% female! I didn't touch the tofu - honest!

15/12/06 9:58 am  

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