Brain Sex: Putting It to Work

By Trehearne-Riel, Claudia J. | Journal of Adult Education, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Brain Sex: Putting It to Work


Trehearne-Riel, Claudia J., Journal of Adult Education


Physiological differences between the male and female brain are explored. Research which suggests this reality and recognition of these differences are in their infancy. The implications for the adult educator remain a challenge and full appreciation of the subject is left open for debate. As andragogy and pedagogy continue to merge yet differentiate, any issue of diversity, including brain sex differences, deserves the attention of the adult educator.

Introduction

Recent research has made it compelling to recognize that the brain develops differentially in direct response to the presence of estrogen or testosterone as determined by the presence of the XX or XY sex chromosomes at conception. These inner differences are as striking and exciting as the differences that are obvious on the outside. As these distinctions are explored, the adult educator is challenged to acknowledge "Brain Sex" as well as socio-cultural gender expectations between the sexes. With this knowledge, learning strategies can be put to work that maximize each individual's potential.

Theory or Fact

About twenty years ago Ann Moir, then a doctoral student, became interested in exploring the possibility that men and women are different and the difference goes beyond the procreational functions and the anatomically obvious. If there were clinically describable and scientific distinctions between the brains of men and women, she felt it was intellectually dishonest to deny these differences (Moir 1992). Collaborating with Jessel, Moir wrote a controversial best seller, Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between men and Women. Within their book, is a stylized version of brain research that opens electrifying new possibilities about the differences between men and women and yet leaves some crucial questions unanswered.

Sex or Gender

Sex or gender are two terms that are frequently used to refer to male or female differences. The term gender has been further extended to include role and identity. "Sex is used to indicate physiological differentiation between males and females (Huyck, 1990, ñ 124). Gender role includes the social prescriptions or stereotypes associated with each sex, to which an individual may or may not conform, and gender identity includes the introspective part of gender role, such as the gender-linked qualities that one sees as part of the self."

Genetically Determined

The sexes are different because their brains are different (Moir, 1992; Witelson, 1991). In the developing nervous system there is a small window of time that the growing brain responds to levels of testosterone or to levels of estrogen. These steroid hormones create a sex-specific blueprint. Research finds that the actions of gonadal hormones upon the developing nervous system are organizational and permanent (Kandel 1991). Hormones have been found to have two periods of influence on the brain. During very early development of the brain, the hormones dictate neural patterns and routes. Then, during puberty these same hormones return to the brain to nudge the same pathways or networks which they had laid down earlier. Moir (1992) likens this revisiting to a photographic negative that has been made very early, and the full development comes later. The interplay between the hormones and the brain guides the differences in human behavior and gaining knowledge. Both learning and behavior have strong biological support. Gazzaniga (1992) supports the biological basis for learning by saying "learning may be nothing more than the time needed for an organism to sort out its built-in systems in order to accomplish its goals" (p.76). Moir (1992) supports the notion that maturation of the processes required for organization of neural patterns takes time.

Future research could establish a direct relationship between brain structure and behavior, and conversely, between behavior and structure. If this can be authenticated, then there would be indisputable linkages between sex, hormones, brains, learning and behavior as well as environmental influences. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Brain Sex: Putting It to Work
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.