Sex Differences in the Brain; Battle of the Sexes; Exclusive Online Issues; by Doreen Kimura; 6 Page(s)
Men and women differ not only in their physical attributes and reproductive function but also in many other characteristics, including the way they solve intellectual problems. For the past few decades, it has been ideologically fashionable to insist that these behavioral differences are minimal and are the consequence of variations in experience during development before and after adolescence. Evidence accumulated more recently, however, suggests that the effects of sex hormones on brain organization occur so early in life that from the start the environment is acting on differently wired brains in boys and girls. Such effects make evaluating the role of experience, independent of physiological predisposition, a difficult if not dubious task. The biological bases of sex differences in brain and behavior have become much better known through increasing numbers of behavioral, neurological and endocrinological studies.
We know, for instance, from observations of both humans and nonhumans that males are more aggressive than females, that young males engage in more rough-and-tumble play than females and that females are more nurturing. We also know that in general males are better at a variety of spatial or navigational tasks. How do these and other sex differences come about? Much of our information and many of our ideas about how sexual differentiation takes place derive from research on animals. From such investigations, it appears that perhaps the most important factor in the differentiation of males and females and indeed in differentiating individuals within a sex is the level of exposure to various sex hormones early in life.