February 22, 2013
Women More Talkative Than Men Because Thier Brain Is Designed That Way
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
We´ve all heard the oft-repeated statistics about women talking more than men. And to back up those statistics, one previous study has shown that a part of the brain responsible for processing communication is simply larger in a woman than a man. Now, a new study adds to those claims by moving a step further, showing that the female brain is actually designed with communication in mind.
Performed by doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, this study has linked being talkative with a particular protein found in the brain called FOXP2. Women have been found to have more of this protein in their brains, leading the researchers to believe this is why women are more vocal than men.
The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
“This study is one of the first to report a sex difference in the expression of a language-associated protein in humans or animals,” explained the study´s co-author Margaret McCarthy, PhD, in a prepared statement. “The findings raise the possibility that sex differences in brain and behavior are more pervasive and established earlier than previously appreciated.”
Science, it seems, has been forever curious about a female´s tendency to be more communicative and has been looking for this answer for years. The link between FOXP2 and speech was first discovered at the turn of the century and was found to connect vocalization in a host of different animals, such as bats, mice and rats. This latest study started off by observing this correlation in rats before moving on to young children.
First, the researchers recorded the levels of FOXP2 in four-day-old rat pups, both female and male. Next, the researchers separated these newborn rats from their mothers and compared the sounds between the females and males. When they were pulled away from their mother, the male rats made the most noise, crying twice as much as their female siblings. The researchers also noticed that the FOXP2 levels were higher in the part of the brain associated with cognition, emotion and vocalization.
To put this finding to the test, the researchers switched the amount of communication protein between the female and male rat pups. Once switched, the female rat pups sounded just like the males when taken away from their mother, and vice versa. Even the mother rat was fooled, rushing to take care of the female pups first.
With this data, Dr. McCarthy and co-author Dr. Bowers studied the amount of this protein in 4- and 5-year old children. According to their data, girls have more FOXP2 in the language portion of their brain than boys – about 30 percent more. This, says Dr. Bowers might be the first step in explaining why women tend to be more talkative than men.
“We can´t say that this is the end-all-be-all reasoning. But it is one of the first avenues with which we can start to explore why women tend to be more verbal than men,” explained Dr. Bowers said in an interview with NBC´s Today.
Of course, there´s other evidence out there which not only finds that men and women talk about the same as one another, but that those claims about women speaking 20,000 words a day on average may not have any actual literature to back them up.
So, while women may be better wired for communication than men, there are still those who believe we use about the same number of words. Perhaps the entire debate comes down to quality versus quantity, though I won´t be making any assumptions about which gender belongs to which category.