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Estrogen and the mind(11 posts)

Estrogen and the mindAllisonHayes
Jun 3, 2002 7:21 AM
OK, on NPR I heard of a recent study linking estrogen and the way the mind processes information. It seems that mice who had estrogen performed better in a maze where both the maze and the food were randomized. However, in the experiments where the mice only had to make a right hand turn, the mice without estrogen performed better.

The conclusion is that estrogen or lack of it affects how the brain processes information. In cases where there is greater ambiguity and lack of structure, having estrogen seems to help; in cases where there is a clear pattern or structure, lack of estrogen seems to help.

What does this mean? Does it mean that women are more flexible and adaptable (when they are younger) while men are more inflexible and prefer structure and organization throughout their life?

Or, does it support the theory that women just nag more the older we get? (hahahahaha)
As my wife says...PaulCL
Jun 3, 2002 7:34 AM
In life, women's brains work as swiss army knives. Men's as meat cleavers. She also references 'testosterone' poisoning as the cause of my evil in the world. She's kidding....I think...

Seriously, I think men appreciate (good word, huh?) more structure and organization than women. Women view themselves as more flexible - able to handle every task at once. In fairness, this is a gross over generalization of the differences between the sexes.

Put the same mouse into the same maze with the same food but pumped full of testosterone. The result..the mouse will just stop and hump the wall. testosterone poisoning. ;)
humpin' eh?AllisonHayes
Jun 3, 2002 7:55 AM
testosterone = "humpin'" & dumpin too, I'm sure. LOL

Each day we feed the birds. The red-winged blackbirds are particularly smart and noteworthy. The males stake out a territory. They will leave their territory and fly right to you for food, but just one at a time. Each one has a distinct behavior pattern, greeting and song. However, the females rarely come to you, prefering to stay in groups.

During mating season, the male bird has no interest whatsoever in food and will chase off any male intruders. It seems they are so pumped full of testosterone that they will go for days without eating. Once the eggs are hatched, the males defend the nest from any and all intruders, and will attack anyone who comes too close.
humpin' eh?PaulCL
Jun 3, 2002 8:15 AM
And now we can understand the behavior of teenage boys.
teenage boys?ColnagoFE
Jun 3, 2002 8:18 AM
i know quite a few people where that type of behavior never went away.
teenage boys and/or girlsPaulCL
Jun 3, 2002 9:59 AM
Afterall, testosterone - in men and women - determine sex drive. Its' just that males have a higher level of the stuff - hence humping dogs, mice, and teenage boys.

If I was single, I would imagine that that behaviour would still be present in me. I'll admit it.
But can we rule out self-fulfilling prophecy?Silverback
Jun 3, 2002 9:26 AM
My wife and I tried to raise our kids (son 21, daughter 17) as free of gender bias as we could. They both learned to cook, my daughter helped me work on the cars, all that '60s stuff. About first or second grade, though, the cultural pressures kick in. Boys don't like Barbie and girls didn't like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles no matter how equally they'd been raised at home.
In adulthood, I wonder how much supposedly gender-based behavior is caused or at least encouraged by the same thing. Meaning no disrespect, a man who acted the way a woman claiming PMS is permitted, even expected, to act would be told to get a grip on himself. No doubt there are equivalents in the other direction, too, but since I'm a guy, I can't think of any....
Gender-based behaviorAllisonHayes
Jun 3, 2002 9:49 AM
can be explained largely by chemistry, at least that is one of the findings of this report.

For example, the differences in behavior of boy & girls by the ages of 6 is not so much due to socialization as it is a direct manisfestation of genetic predisposition.

"Self-sulfilling prophecy" implies that socialization was the determinant factor in changing the behavior of your children, whereas I would feel that, while it may have played a part, genetic factors probably had a stronger influence.

Good question though.
don't discount mass media's influenceColnagoFE
Jun 3, 2002 1:06 PM
If they go to movies or watch TV...radio, even read the paper they are constantly exposed to hints as to how boys and girls are supposed to behave. Sure some of it is genetic, but some is learned.
geneticsDougSloan
Jun 4, 2002 5:50 AM
Anyone who has witnessed siblings brought up in the same household, even of the same sex, turn out with entirely different personalities must admit that genetics plays a huge role in personality development. It is reasonable that part of the way genetics manifests itself in personality traits is through release of hormones and other chemicals in the body.

Nonetheless, much of the behavior that is influenced by hormones can be controlled, and is certainly not universal. Hormones should not be used as an excuse for bad behavior, either, in my view.

Men and women in general do appear to think very differently, it seems. Nonetheless, an American man and a Chinese man think very differently, too.

Doug
Biologically Determined BehaviourJon Billheimer
Jun 5, 2002 6:33 AM
In my view behaviours, brain function, etc. are much more heavily determined by biology than environment. And I think most of the science accumulated over the past forty or fifty years will back that up. With respect to the adaptability vs. structure issue it's really hard to say. Another theory that has been trotted out from time to time is that female's statistically larger corpus colossum facilitates information sharing between brain hemispheres. Who knows? It's probably a combination of things. It's also true that many individuals will exhibit characteristics that are totally atypical of a statistical norm.