Why do men only half-listen?
Researchers from the University of Indiana have found the explanation to this age-old problem: why men only half listen...
Men only call on half of their brains when they are listening whereas women use both cerebral hemispheres. Here is a study that could fuel a lot of conversations and start another war of the sexes.
Whether it's from an ear... or rather from a lobe
Equipped with headphones, twenty men and twenty women listened closely to a reading of a passage from a book by John Grisham. During this exercise, and under the eye of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner which was examining their brains closely, most of the men showed brain activity only in the temporal lobe of the left hemisphere, generally associated with listening and language functions. On the contrary, the majority of the women showed brain activity in the temporal lobe of the left and the right hemisphere, which is usually used for musical activity and spatial awareness.
However, the study presented during the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago does not clarify if men have a lower capacity for listening than women. "Our research suggests that there is a difference in the way the two sexes listen, but that does not necessarily imply that the abilities and performance go hand in hand," points out Joseph Lurito, in charge of the study.
Are we heading towards a new battle of the sexes?
This discovery allows the areas of the brain devoted to language to be mapped out with more precision. By highlighting the distinctive features linked to gender, this research will help surgeons to protect these areas during operations. "Therefore, scientists who are currently working on improving medical imaging techniques, such as MRI scanners and PET scanning (positron emission tomography), must be aware of the specific differences for each sex," states Dr. Phillips, co-author of the study.
Is there anything in this to fuel a new battle of the sexes? Some will say that women use all their brain to listen to conversations or for other activities, as other studies have shown, such as reading or various verbal tasks. Others will find a scientific answer for women's ability to follow several conversations at the same time or, according to some experts, their ability to learn to read and talk sooner than men.
Compared to the male brain, which is composed of well-defined areas, the female brain appears to work more bilaterally, with both lobes working in unison for many tasks.
These discoveries could also help us understand how men and women can recover differently from a brain tumour or a stroke, with women able to recover their faculty of hearing more quickly.
Copyright © 2009 Doctissimo
Get more on this subject…