Mar 6, 2016

Male Brain – high-level summary functions of various areas and gender differences

  • 1 --> Medial Preoptic Area (MPOA): This is the area for sexual pursuit, found in the hypothalamus, and it is 2.5 times larger in the male. Men need it to start an erection.
  • 2 --> Temporal Parietal Junction (TPJ): The solution seeker, this "cognitive empathy" brain hub rallies the brain's resources to solve distressing problems while taking into account the perspective of the other person or people involved. During interpersonal emotional exchanges, it's more active in the male brain, comes on-line more quickly, and races toward a "fix-it-fast" solution.
  • 3 --> Dorsal Premammillary Nucleus (DPN): The defend-your-turf area, it lies deep inside the hypothalamus and contains the circuitry for a male's instinctive one-upmanship, territorial defense, fear, and aggression. It's larger in males than in females and contains special circuits to detect territorial challenges by other males, making men more sensitive to potential turf threats.
  • 4 --> Amygdala: The alarm system for threats, fear, and danger. Drives emotional impulses. It gets fired up to fight by testosterone, vasopressin, and cortisol and is calmed by oxytocin. This area is larger in men than in women.
  • 5 --> Rostral Cingulate Zone (RCZ): The brain's barometer for registering social approval or disapproval. This "I am accepted or not" area keeps humans from making the most fundamental social mistake: being too different from others. The RCZ is the brain center for processing social errors. It alerts us when we're not hitting the mark in our relationship or job. During puberty, it may help males reset their facial responses to hide their emotions.
  • 6 --> Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA): It's the motivation center - an area deep in the center of the brain that manufactures dopamine, a neurotransmitter required for initiating movement, motivation, and reward. It is more active in the male brain.
  • 7 --> Peraqueductal (PAG): The PAG is part of the brain's pain circuit, helping to control involuntary pleasure and pain. During sexual intercourse, it is the center for pain suppression, intense pleasure, and moaning. It is more active during sex in the male brain.
  • 8 --> Mirror-Neuron System (MNS): The "I feel what you feel" emotional empathy system. Gets in sync with others' emotions by reading facial expressions and interpreting tone of voice and other nonverbal emotional cues. It is larger and more active in the female brain.
  • 9 --> Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC): It's the worry-wart, fear-of punishment area and center of sexual performance anxiety. It's smaller in men than in women. It weighs options, detects conflicts, motivates decisions. Testosterone decreases worries about punishment. The ACC is also the area for self-consciousness.
  • 10 --> Prefrontal Cortex (PFC): The CEO of the brain, the PFC focuses on the matter at hand and makes good judgments. This "pay total attention to this now" area also works as an inhibiting system to put the brakes on impulses. It's larger in women and matures faster in females than in males by one to two years.
(‘The Male Brain’ by Louann Brizendine, M. D.)