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#117085 - 11/28/11 09:41 AM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
Austin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 1840
Loc: North Texas
Originally Posted By: ultramarina
Here is the news release:
Review Highlights Flawed Logic Of Segregating Boys And Girls For Education Purposes, Based On Alleged Brain Differences


The unisex schools get higher test and achievement scores, all things being equal. I think it comes down to reducing the distractions.

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#117134 - 11/28/11 08:38 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
LNEsMom Offline
Member

Registered: 09/17/11
Posts: 288
If you talk to social scientists who study gender differences (learning as well as other topics), they will point out that in most things, the variation within the categories is generally much greater than the between category difference. In other words, there differences between individual women (and between men) is much greater than the difference between women as a group and men as a group. We as a society focus in on the between category differences and use them to produce stereotypes. When, in actuality, girl's (or boys') learning styles cannot and should not be simplified to a "female" or "male" way of thinking.

I think same-sex schools work for girls for the reasons described above: less distraction and more opportunity to take on roles and activities (especially in math and science) that would might not seem socially possible for them in a co-ed institution.

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#118041 - 12/12/11 07:52 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
aculady Offline
Member

Registered: 12/31/10
Posts: 1040
More research supporting the idea that gender differences in math achievement are not due to biological factors:

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-debunks-myths-gender-math.html

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#118074 - 12/13/11 08:27 AM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
ultramarina Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/10
Posts: 2663
I was just coming here to post that! The greater male variability argument is really being pretty seriously debunked these days.

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#118083 - 12/13/11 10:57 AM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
Austin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 1840
Loc: North Texas
Originally Posted By: aculady
More research supporting the idea that gender differences in math achievement are not due to biological factors:

http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-debunks-myths-gender-math.html


From study:

Quote:
Instead, Mertz and Kane recommend increasing the number of math-certified teachers in middle and high schools, decreasing the number of children living in poverty and ensuring gender equality.



Originally Posted By: ultramarina
I was just coming here to post that! The greater male variability argument is really being pretty seriously debunked these days.


Probably not even at the high end - lot of both sexes at the very top.

http://amc.maa.org/amc8/2011/stats/2011-amc8stats.shtml



Edited by Austin (12/13/11 11:19 AM)

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#118089 - 12/13/11 01:42 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: aculady]
Bostonian Offline
Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 1841
Loc: MA
Male and female brains are different, as explained in the following article.

http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/how-male-female-brains-differ
How Male and Female Brains Differ
Researchers reveal sex differences in the brain's form and function.

WebMD Feature
Recent studies highlight a long-held suspicion about the brains of males and females. They're not the same. So how does the brain of a female look and function differently from a male's brain, and what accounts for these differences?

Disparities Start Early in Life

Scientists now know that sex hormones begin to exert their influence during development of the fetus. A recent study by Israeli researchers that examined male and female brains found distinct differences in the developing fetus at just 26 weeks of pregnancy. The disparities could be seen when using an ultrasound scanner. The corpus callosum -- the bridge of nerve tissue that connects the right and left sides of the brain -- had a thicker measurement in female fetuses than in male fetuses.

Observations of adult brains show that this area may remain stronger in females. "Females seem to have language functioning in both sides of the brain," says Martha Bridge Denckla, PhD, a research scientist at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Consider these recent findings. Researchers, using brain imaging technology that captures blood flow to "working" parts of the brain, analyzed how men and women process language. All subjects listened to a novel. When males listened, only the left hemisphere of their brains was activated. The brains of female subjects, however, showed activity on both the left and right hemispheres.

This activity across both hemispheres of the brain may result in the strong language skills typically displayed by females. "If there's more area dedicated to a set of skills, it follows that the skills will be more refined," says David Geary, PhD, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri.

As a whole, girls outperform boys in the use of language and fine motor skills until puberty, notes Denckla. Boys also fall prey to learning disabilities more frequently than girls. "Clinics see a preponderance of boys with dyslexia," Denckla tells WebMD. ADHD also strikes more boys than girls. The symptoms displayed by girls and boys with ADHD differ, too. Girls with ADHD usually exhibit inattention, while affected boys are prone to lack of impulse control. But not all differences favor girls.

Boys generally demonstrate superiority over female peers in areas of the brain involved in math and geometry. These areas of the brain mature about four years earlier in boys than in girls, according to a recent study that measured brain development in more than 500 children. Researchers concluded that when it comes to math, the brain of a 12-year-old girl resembles that of an 8-year-old boy. Conversely, the same researchers found that areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills (such as handwriting) mature about six years earlier in girls than in boys.

So, do these sex differences even out over time?

Females and males maintain unique brain characteristics throughout life. Male brains, for instance, are about 10% larger than female brains. But bigger doesn't necessarily mean smarter.

Disparities in how certain brain substances are distributed may be more revealing. Notably, male brains contain about 6.5 times more gray matter -- sometimes called 'thinking matter" -- than women. Female brains have more than 9.5 times as much white matter, the stuff that connects various parts of the brain, than male brains. That's not all. "The frontal area of the cortex and the temporal area of the cortex are more precisely organized in women, and are bigger in volume," Geary tells WebMD. This difference in form may explain a lasting functional advantage that females seem to have over males: dominant language skills.

<end of excerpt>

I think differences in male and female differences likely explain differences in average verbal and math abilities.

ETA: A review paper

The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics
by Diane F. Halpern, Camilla P. Benbow, David C. Geary, Ruben C. Gur, Janet Shibley Hyde, and Morton Ann Gernsbacher

is at http://web.missouri.edu/~gearyd/files/Halpernetal2007PsychScience.pdf





Edited by Bostonian (12/13/11 01:54 PM)
_________________________
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

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#118095 - 12/13/11 03:59 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
ultramarina Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/10
Posts: 2663
Yeah, a lot of that is highly in dispute, Bostonian, as I think you know. The science seems to be coalescing more strongly on the other side of the argument. If all this is biological, then why has there been a HUGE change in female math and science achievement in the last 50 years--a mere microbleep in evolutionary time?

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#118103 - 12/13/11 05:55 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: Austin]
Bostonian Offline
Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 1841
Loc: MA
Originally Posted By: Austin



Originally Posted By: ultramarina
I was just coming here to post that! The greater male variability argument is really being pretty seriously debunked these days.


Probably not even at the high end - lot of both sexes at the very top.

http://amc.maa.org/amc8/2011/stats/2011-amc8stats.shtml



Looking at http://amc.maa.org/amc8/2011/stats/statestatistics/_Overall/Grade_and_Gender_Average.pdf , there is still a male edge of about 1 question (out of 25) on average. It's not huge, but it is statistically significant, and it is found every year on the AMC 8 and other standardized math tests.
_________________________
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

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#118129 - 12/13/11 11:09 PM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: ultramarina]
Giftodd Offline
Member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 221
Loc: Australia
I find this topic really interesting. Recently (and unfortunately I didn't take note of where I found them) I came across a couple of different bits of information. I will not doubt use incorrect terminology out of ignorance so apologies in advance. The first was a TED talk by a neuroscientist who mentioned for various reasons, the vast majority of healthy brains they get to dissect and study are men's brains (because they're more likely to have fatal accidents when they're young and because women are more likely to donate their partner’s organs than men are)**. The second was a blog on a psychology journal website where the author was lamenting what he felt was an underlying political correctness in neuroscience where people were no longer looking for differences between men and women’s brains when he felt that there were differences and that to not study them was to the detriment of women's mental health.

Not long after I came across these two things a friend who is a psych lecturer recommended the book "Left Brain, Right Brain - Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience" by Sally Springer and Geor Deutsch (neuroscience being one of my many passing fads…) It is a summary of current research in brain science and from my quick search on it before I purchased it, it seemed to show that is well regarded. This book backs up part of Bostonian's post, which is that it appears women generally use both hemispheres in their thinking processes whereas men's brains are more lateralised. The authors emphasised that this is all that is really known at this point – no one really knows yet what this means (if anything) for intelligence, hemisphere asymmetry etc.

I absolutely consider myself a feminist and I certainly have had and understand concerns about using cognitive differences to make generalisations about gender, but for me what is relevant in all this is that this difference in brain function does appear to exist. By not exploring it we do women and girls a disservice. It means our concepts of learning are potentially based on what works for men, it means our intelligence tests are potentially assessing intelligence in ways that are not fully reflecting women’s potential (in sofar as they truly reflect anyone’s potential). Of course in addition to those kinds of concerns there is the potential for women to miss out on receiving the best possible treatment for mental illness and brain damage, among other things, if research is focused on men’s brains or on denying difference.

I certainly admit that my knowledge of this area is minimal and that I know I am linking potentially unrelated and in the case of the blog and the TED talk, potentially unverified, bits of information to make these assumptions. But even without those initial bits of information the fact that there is hemispheric asymmetry and that women do appear to access areas of their brains in ways that differ to men is cause for further exploration as far as I’m concerned (I certainly don’t mean to imply that those things I list above as possibilities are givens or are even likely - just seemingly possible). It seems to me that the world should (emphasis on SHOULD) be adult enough to understand that equal doesn’t equate to same – oh, scrap that, of course it’s not – otherwise we wouldn’t need this board!

** Edit - I should point out that I am aware that there are other ways of researching brains that don't require the person to be dead and would allow for both men and women to be studied - but I assume there are benefits in dissecting actual brains as well as functioning ones smile


Edited by Giftodd (12/13/11 11:12 PM)
_________________________
"If children have interest, then education will follow" - Arthur C Clarke

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#118133 - 12/14/11 01:29 AM Re: Girls' and boys' brains not so different [Re: Giftodd]
ColinsMum Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/08
Posts: 1859
Loc: Scotland
Giftodd, you really need to read Lise Eliot's article with which ultramarina started the thread - the stuff you're talking about here is practically all among the "myths" of neuroscience that she debunks in it. It looks to me as though you don't need a subscription to see it:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/c63105666nw1788k/fulltext.html

I think the key point to be aware of is that even when there are statistically robust differences between male and female brains (and many of the best known ones are mythical) the intra-sex variation is in (practically? I know no exceptions) every case greater than the inter-sex variation, which makes the finding of very limited usefulness when it comes to dealing with individuals.

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