Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Men, Women, Boys, Girls, Listening & 'ADD'

The first time we showed this picture in a talk (it's fMRI of men vs. women 'listening'), we overheard one woman whispering to her girlfriend "Balanced!", while a man kidded his wife, "Efficient!", and you know, both had a point.

Our differences are good for certain things, and not so good for other things, and we hope that some day a better understanding will will allow us to build 'designer educations' based on each individual's unique wiring.

Men appear to have a visual field advantage to the right, and women, a visual field advantage to the left. Women are more rapid at detecting the emotional content of words, which can be a good thing (higher levels of empathy) or a bad thing (higher levels of depression or emotional intrusion) depending on what sort of thing you're evaluating.

The data for boys and girls is more sparse, but probably just as significant. Are the emotional sensitivities of girls what drives their interest in social fiction? Is this why 'school fiction' (focusing on relationships or social situations) is not as compelling to boys?

The cognitive differences between boy- and girl-thinking is a critical area to research further. Today boys are being left behind at every level of education (K-12 & post-secondary), and they are over-represented in all areas of learning disabilities and behavioral diagnoses.

In the figure below (from a previous post), boys clearly prefer visual vs. auditory memory at age 6-8. In many situations, teaching styles may be inappropriately listening-heavy for young boys.

With behavioral checklists dominating the classroom, increasing numbers of auditorily-inattentive boys are being written off as having 'ADHD' and visual hyperfocus. What we need to do, is think about them more deeply.

Sex-Based Differences with Listening
Are Boys Falling Behind in Academics?
Intellectual Gender Gap? (why gender differences in learning can be a 'hot' topic)
CNN: Gender & the Brain

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