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Male and female brains - what does it all mean?

Male and female brains - what does it all mean?

What kind of brain do you have?

Introduction
Male and female brains
What does it all mean?
Take the brain test

What does it all mean?

This empathising-systemising theory also helps us to explain and understand medical conditions such as Asperger's syndrome, a type of autism in which average - and often well above average - IQ is accompanied by obessional interest in systems and very poor empathising skills. Asperger's is an extreme of the male brain type, with a male to female ratio of 10:1. It isn't automatically debilitating, though. Baron-Cohen points to the likes of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Paul Dirac, all outstandingly successful, but each a classic example of the extreme male brain.

So is there an extreme version of the female brain type?

In theory, there should be. And it's not necessarily someone all pink and fluffy, either. ‘You'd be looking for someone who's highly sensitive emotionally, able to identify with others' thoughts and empathise absolutely with them,' says Baron-Cohen. True, they probably couldn't even begin to get to grips with sums or engines, but these people are unlikely to be at a disadvantage in society, nor would they come to the attention of psychiatrists. In fact, they're the ones probably earning fortunes as outstanding therapists... and yet utterly reliant on men.

What does all this mean? ‘

A better understanding of the extreme male brain may lead teachers to be more tolerant of the very different learning styles these children possess,' says Baron-Cohen. He also believes an Asperger's ‘label' is only useful if a child (or adult) is experiencing problems, such as bullying or depression, for which they need help.

When it comes to relationships, perhaps the message is one of greater tolerance. Your man is no more capable of knowing why you spend hours chatting to your friends on the phone than you can grasp why he needs to keep 600 back copies of Angler's Monthly. If you happen to be at opposite ends of the male-female divide, you just have to accept that neither of you is about to change the habits that are hardwired into your brain. Know that the boy just can't help it and just cherish all those things you do love about him.

There's always training. There's a DVD called Mind Reading, which is a library guide largely intended for those with Asperger's. It shows six different people each performing 400 emotions, so viewers can ‘learn' emotions by playing and re-playing them. But has anyone thought of bringing out Mind Reading For Husbands - a guide to 400 domestic conundrums for the home computer, which calendarises required actions, with appropriate lists? ‘Three things you ought to do on a Silver Wedding anniversary. Click here for link to Interflora.' If only I had a systemised brain, I'd write the programme now.

Feature published in July 2004

The answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone and are not substitutes for professional medical advice. If you're worried, see your GP.

For more information, visit netdoctor.co.uk

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