Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Science that could be mistaken for an Onion headline

Looks like the folks at Live Science beat the Onion to it.

Well known for faux headlines that state the obvious, the way Live Science's summarize the findings from a recent study comes very close:

Emotional wiring Different in Women and Men.

We at OFD agree that there is something of the absurdly obvious to this statement. Well, when science can't tell us what we know already, at least it can tell us why. Clusters of neurons processing experiences hook up to contrasting brain functions in men and women.

With men the cluster "talks with" brain regions that help them respond to sensors for what's going on outside the body, such as the visual cortex and an area that coordinates motor actions. This skill comes in handy, especially in many of today's dense urban settlements, where parking in a tight spot can be a challenge.

With women the cluster communicates with brain regions that help them respond to sensors inside the body, such as the insular cortex and hypothalamus. These areas tune in to and regulate women's hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and respiration. Their connection to these vital bodily functions over the course of a lifetime might have a hand in why they live longer than men.

"Throughout evolution, women have had to deal with a number of internal stressors, such as childbirth, that men haven't had to experience," said study co-author Larry Cahill of the University of California Irvine. "What is fascinating about this is the brain seems to have evolved to be in tune with those different stressors."

Next time we're inclined to be frustrated by an emotional display of a spouse, partner of friend, it would be good to consider that perhaps it really might be something out of their control, shaped not only by biology but millennia of evolutionary adaptation and interaction with our environment, more cultural and social than perhaps physical in this instance.

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