Brizendine is the author of the best-selling book, "The Female Brain."
In her new book, she uses the latest scientific research to unlock the secrets of the male brain, revealing an often shocking gulf between the sexes.
Here is an interview with Brizendine:
Q: You describe the male brain as a female brain "marinated in testosterone" during gestation. Can you elaborate?
A: We all start out from conception until 8 weeks of fetal life with female-type brain circuits and then the tiny testicles begin to squirt out huge amounts of testosterone that marinate the brain turning it into a male brain. (The combination of male genes on the Y chromosome and testosterone is what makes a male a male.) However, grown-up men still have many of the original brain circuits that started out as female. Males learn and are taught to suppress their emotional expression. So when they grow up they are often too embarrassed to express very much emotion and it's easy for them to hide their feelings because their brain circuits have learned how to hold a stoic poker face.
Q: What other effects does this high level of testosterone have on men?
A: In his teen years, when a boy's testosterone skyrockets, he starts to see the world as an angrier place. He literally reads "neutral" faces as angry. Seeing the angry face increases his own anger and can trigger his aggression circuits. It's a knee jerk reaction that often surprises him. Testosterone can also help to fuel something called autocatalytic anger. This is when a man's anger feeds on itself and grows. A word to the wise: Do not add fuel to this fire. Whatever you have to say can wait until the testosterone surge subsides.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from Brizendine's new book, "The Male Brain."
Q: What is the biggest difference between the female and the male brain, what are the biggest similarities?
A: The male and female brain are mostly alike. We are the same species after all. But the differences that do exist are big. The testosterone marination during fetal life makes the area-for-sexual-pursuit in the male hypothalamus grow to be 2.5 times larger than the female and then in the teen boy brain he has 200 to 250% more testosterone than teen girls, which will last his entire life.
Q: Why are there so many problems in communicating between the sexes?
A: Males and females have many different needs and objectives, especially when it comes to mating, sex and child rearing. We tend to approach topics and solve problems using different parts of our brains and that's why we sometimes can't see eye to eye. The key to better communication is understanding how the other person's brain works and how he or she views the world. When a man and woman have that understanding of each other, it is possible to bridge the communication gap.
On the Mating Brain and the Hormone of Monogamy: He either operates as a stay-at-home dad or as a playboy-depending on his vasopressin receptor gene. There is no sure-fire answer for what makes men monogamous (or not), but research on male voles has provided clues. Scientists have found that the prairie vole is monogamous and takes equal responsibility for his offspring. But his cousin, the montane vole, is promiscuous and specializes in one-night stands. The difference between these cousins occurs in the brain. When prairie voles mate, the repeated release of vasopressin during sex causes a change in the male's brain, helping him memorize his partner's smell, touch, and appearance-and leading him to reject all others. The montane male vole's brain also releases vasopressin during sex, but his brain receptors respond differently and do not produce a preference for one female. In humans, the men with a longer vassopressin gene get married and stay married longer according to a study in Sweden--and the men with the shorter gene are more likely to remain promiscuous bachelors. The genes resulting in mono-gamous brain receptors for vasopressin get passed down from father to son. So if you want the best chance of choosing a monogamous male, take a good look at the behavior of his biological father.
On Emotional Intimacy: If you've ever said, "He obviously doesn't care how I feel," this lesson is for you. When faced with an emotionally charged issue, a man's brain switches into analytic mode. His focus is on solving the problem-there's no time for empathy and sympathy for his suffering female partner. After a fight, men often appear to women to be expressionless and shutting down. In fact, the opposite may be true: he's just using a different brain system to try to improve the situation.
Q: Which are the most surprising insights into men you gained?
A: The daddy brain is formed from smelling the pheromones of his pregnant partner. And, that little boys in the classroom learn better when they're allowed to move around, squirm and fidget.
Visit Dr. Louann Brizendine on her Web site at http://www.louannbrizendine.com, or click HERE.
This Q&A is reprinted by permission of Broadway Books, the Crown Publishing Group.