The Male vs Female Brain

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

What can the brain teach us about dealing with the opposite sex and why you really do have to ask your man more than once.

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Daniel Amen: Hey everybody, this is Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I am Tana Amen.

Daniel Amen: We have a very special show for you today. We are going to talk about the differences between the male and female brain.

Tana Amen: Oh boy.

Daniel Amen: This can be scary.

Tana Amen: Or fun.

Daniel Amen: Funny, actually. I know more about this than I want to know. I am one of seven children, I have one brother and five, 1-2-3-4-5 sisters.

Tana Amen: In fact, I've often said that I love his sisters, probably more than anyone, because Daniel came fully trained and housebroken. When you grow up with five sisters, I had very little training to do, and I am grateful for that.

Daniel Amen: I remember after my mom brought home the fourth one, my brother and I said when she was pregnant with the fifth one, "You bring home another girl, we are leaving-"

Tana Amen: How old were you?

Daniel Amen: We threatened to leave. I was like, eight, I'm like, it's like, come on, we need another boy to even things out here.

Tana Amen: That's so funny.

Daniel Amen: Lo and behold, she brought home Joanne, my baby sister, another girl, and we left for about 45 minutes until we figured out we had no food. My mom just happened to be-

Tana Amen: You're mom's a good cook.

Daniel Amen: An awesome cook. She actually is one of the most powerful female brains-

Tana Amen: I actually can attest to this-

Daniel Amen: That we've ever seen.

Tana Amen: Your mother, for as tiny as she is, I honestly ... She's like the matriarch. She's an amazing woman and at, what is she, 85 now?

Daniel Amen: 85, yeah.

Tana Amen: 85 years old-

Daniel Amen: She's The General.

Tana Amen: She really is. We call her The General, not in a bad way, but just because she's just got everything buttoned down, I mean, not kidding, and she's everybody's best friend.

Daniel Amen: She's awesome. She is. In addition to my five sisters, I have three daughters, 14 nieces, a granddaughter and so the female brain has always been really interesting to me. Here at Amen Clinics, we do imaging, we do brain imaging. We actually built the world's largest data base of brain scans related to behavior. When we put them into a searchable data base the first question I wanted to ask the data base is, "Dear Data Base, what is the difference between the male and the female brain?"

Tana Amen: That's hilarious.

Daniel Amen: Virtually every area of the female brain is busier than in the male brain.

Tana Amen: Are you saying to say that men are a little slow or that they are brain dead?

Daniel Amen: Well, that we can just do a lot with a little.

Tana Amen: I see how you spun that.

Daniel Amen: The male brain is actually 10% larger, even when you adjust for size than the female brain. The female brain has more connections and it's just much busier.

Tana Amen: Just busy, busy, busy.

Daniel Amen: Which gives them some very specific strengths, but also some specific vulnerabilities.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: Looking at the science, at the research, and the imaging work that we do, women have greater activity in their pre frontal cortex, the most human thoughtful part of the brain involved with things like forethought, judgement, impulse control, organization planning and forethought. The first thing, women have more empathy, which is probably why they raise children.

Tana Amen: We raise children and we also tend to be caretakers for the elderly. We take care of parents, we are in this sandwich generation and it's just sort of the natural place we end up.

Daniel Amen: 70% of the time, if an elderly person needs care, they are being cared for by a woman.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: They also have higher intuition and it's not just gas.

Tana Amen: I remember the first time you told me, "Well, maybe it's just gas," and I was like, "Seriously? It's a good thing you are not standing that close to me right now." There's a lot of studies of what intuition really is and if you think about this from hunter/gatherer perspective, from a development perspective, hunters versus gatherers, men tended to be the hunters. They would go out, and they've got a lot of testosterone and they were out working and bringing stuff in to eat. Women were more community oriented, they were the gatherers, but there was a safety issue. They were always looking around, paying attention to the environment because they had to, being the smaller of the sexes and also having men not there a lot, they were paying attention to danger. That's what female intuition-

Daniel Amen: Female sense of smell is heightened-

Tana Amen: Yes. That sixth sense is really a higher awareness of your environment.

Daniel Amen: After a woman has a baby, her brain actually gets remodeled to become much more sensitive.

Tana Amen: In fact, since you brought that up ... After I had Chloe, my friends used to joke, and my parents would joke that I could fall asleep on the top of a picket fence and nothing would wake me up. After I had Chloe, and you can attest to this, I sleep with earplugs because I am such a light sleeper now. I can hear something on the other side of my house, if a window or a door opens, I am up and down the hall in a flash. It's the weirdest thing. Once you have a baby, you never sleep the same. It's just a very strange thing.

Daniel Amen: Sleep, sense of smell goes up, and one of the things that I think is just incredibly unfair is, a woman has better peripheral vision where a man's vision is more tunnel vision.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: He's good at shooting things where she is good at-

Tana Amen: Hey, I'm pretty good at it too, though-

Daniel Amen: You are. She's more ... She's better at scanning the environment. If we're walking along and a pretty girl comes by and I happen to notice, I turn my head-

Tana Amen: Okay, but see, right there-

Daniel Amen: Wait a minute, let me finish this, let me finish this. I turn my head and I totally get caught but a woman, because of her peripheral vision, she can totally check out a cute guy, and the guy doesn't notice it at all. It's not fair.

Tana Amen: It's not fair, but here's the deal, here's the difference. You guys are checking out pretty girls, and you always get frustrated with me because you think I'm not hearing what you are saying, because what am I looking for when we are walking?

Daniel Amen: You're looking for the bad guys.

Tana Amen: I'm looking for bad guys, I notice every single person walking by. I am aware of what's happening around me. That is your awareness, your heightened awareness which leads to your intuition.

Daniel Amen: So, I'm having more fun than you are.

Tana Amen: Not if you get caught.

Daniel Amen: Another thing about intuition that's interesting, is it's a right hemisphere phenomenon, so there's actually differences between the hemispheres in the brain for right handed people. It's often flipped for left handed people, but the left side of the brain is more detail oriented, it's sort of interested in the facts. The right side gets the big picture of situations, and intuition tens to be a right hemisphere phenomenon-

Tana Amen: Oh, interesting-

Daniel Amen: It's like, "This guy's trouble. I know it but I can't explain it," because it's the left ... It's the right hemisphere that notices it and gives you that feeling of anxiety. It's the left hemisphere that has the words for it.

Tana Amen: Really interesting though, because I studied this after being attacked. I study it and I practice martial arts and I'm a security freak, but, one thing about intuition is, once you start becoming aware of it and you stop talking yourself out of it and you pay attention to it, you'll start becoming more aware of those things. You'll actually understand what it really is, and you'll go, "Oh, I know what that is," Instead of, "I don't know why that guy makes me uncomfortable," You'll actually start knowing why the guy makes you uncomfortable. Pay attention to it, nurture it a little bit. Don't get paranoid, that's the difference. You don't want to nurture paranoia.

Daniel Amen: Womens' brains are also wired for collaboration, they have a higher limbic brain, and-

Tana Amen: Back to the gatherer phenomenon-

Daniel Amen: And taking care of kids and the elderly.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: Men do it and we're much better at it than a couple of generations ago-

Tana Amen: They're often wonderful at it.

Daniel Amen: Right. Womens' brains are more ... And that's why they often make great CEO's, because they are much more about consensus rather than just-

Tana Amen: We're talking about women? Or men?

Daniel Amen: Women. Men are more like, "I said it, do it because I said it," Women are better are building consensus-

Tana Amen: And relationships, yeah.

Daniel Amen: Self-control, because they have better frontal lobe function. The one statistic that just proves this out is who goes to jail? Men, 14 times more than females.

Tana Amen: Interesting, about the baby thing again. Before I had Chloe, I didn't worry much about traveling, or what would happen or things like that. Once you have a baby, and it's not about paranoia or anything like that, but it's always in the back of my head. I need to be safe, I need to be healthy, because I have a child. Whether it's travelling, whether it's what I eat, whether it's where I'm going, anything about what I am doing every moment of the day almost, it's in the back of my head, "Is this safe to do?" Because I need to be safe for my child.

Daniel Amen: That leads us to the next thing, which is for the female brain, one of the big strengths, but it leads to vulnerability.

Tana Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Daniel Amen: Females have more worry. I call it "Appropriate Worry," or "Appropriate Anxiety," because-

Tana Amen: Then why do you think I am somewhat paranoid?

Daniel Amen: Well, because you are, it's like, if they only knew. Go see Trolls, go see the movie Trolls.

Tana Amen: Oh no, I am Branch in Trolls. I am totally Branch.

Daniel Amen: If you go to that movie-

Tana Amen: We have role reversal, my husband-

Daniel Amen: There's a survivalist in there that's got food for like ten years-

Tana Amen: And weapons and he's got a fortress. My husband is Princess Poppy, okay? Nothing bad can happen in the world. I call him Princess Poppy.

Daniel Amen: If you haven't seen Trolls, you won't understand that.

Tana Amen: Go see it.

Daniel Amen: The female brain has much higher anxiety. That's why they go to jail 14 times less because they worry more about what bad things can happen. You absolutely need some of that or bad things happen. It leads to vulnerabilities. In the female brain, there's a higher incidence of anxiety and depression. According to one study from Canada, women have 52% less serotonin than men and if you are on birth control pills, it drops it further. Brand new study out on people who take birth control pills have a higher incidence of depression.

Tana Amen: It not only drops that, it drops your B vitamins, which is also responsible for depression.

Daniel Amen: And so, because of the lower serotonin levels, higher anxiety and depression in the female brain, higher insomnia, higher eating disorders because this perfectionist thing goes on-

Tana Amen: Ooh yeah, I'm a recovering perfectionist, you gotta get over that-

Daniel Amen: They have higher struggles with pain and they can't turn their thoughts off, which is why they can get addicted to sugar, because sugar naturally boosts serotonin. The problem is it's pro inflammatory, it's addictive, it increases erratic brain cell firing-

Tana Amen: And diabetes and all sorts of stuff.

Daniel Amen: It makes you diabetic and fat.

Tana Amen: There are healthier ways to do it.

Daniel Amen: We have some rules for men and rules for women. The rules for women, why don't you do the rules for women, and I'll do the rules for men?

Tana Amen: The first rules is, don't expect your man to act like your best girlfriend. This is just common sense, when you really do understand, after I saw the brain scans it made me laugh, but it also made me realize, when I could get frustrated at times when Daniel sort of likes at me like deer in the headlights, when he's like that blank stare, and I'm like, "Okay, he's not one of my girlfriends. They don't behave the same way." It's just a fact.

Daniel Amen: You're not going to get the same level of empathy and collaboration-

Tana Amen: Right. They just want to fix it and make it go away.

Daniel Amen: ... And words, so if you start talking about a problem-

Tana Amen: He wants to fix it and make it go away-

Daniel Amen: He will talk about a solution because he cares about you, not, and many women will take that, "Well, he won't listen, he's diminishing me," And it's just how he's wired.

Tana Amen: Think about it. He's a hunter. They go out and they kill problems.

Daniel Amen: Tell him, "I don't want you to solve this for me, I just need you to listen."

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: Even then it's going to be hard for him, because he cares about you and he's going to do what guys do-

Tana Amen: Fix it-

Daniel Amen: Which is, "Let's just fix it," So don't expect him to be like your best girlfriends.

Tana Amen: Right. If you want him to listen, use fewer words. Actually this is an interesting one, I get overwhelmed by sometimes how many words women use. Not all women are the same, so let's just know that right up front. Daniel often says the only time I scare him is when I act like a girl and it turns out because of a little hormone imbalance I've had in the past. Don't use as many words. Try to figure out a quick way to say it and let it sit for a minute.

Daniel Amen: Active listening is so important.

Tana Amen: Right. The third rules is, you have to ask more than once. If you want something, not just done, but you want him to do something a certain way, be patient. Don't get offended here, honey, but it's a little like when you are raising kids, you never get mad when they don't do it the first time, you just ask them again. You teach them again, right, so if they don't know what it is you want, they don't think like you do, they're not like one of your girlfriends.

Daniel Amen: Well, she'll ask once, and he'll have a short attention span and not really process it. Rather than nudging in a kind way, she will start stewing on it's-

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: She will then-

Tana Amen: He has no idea that you're doing that.

Daniel Amen: She will then think, she has mentioned it a thousand times, and now she's just mad-

Tana Amen: Because in her head, she actually mentioned it a thousand times, but not out loud. Keep in mind, women multi-task pretty well. Men, they don't. If he's doing something else-

Daniel Amen: And if you ask him in the fourth quarter of the Laker game-

Tana Amen: Right, and if he's in the middle of doing something else, he's on his e mail, or he's watching a game, and you ask him, and you think he actually heard you, that's on you.

Daniel Amen: It's good to get him to repeat back, in a kind way, not in a sarcastic way. All right, rules for men, do not expect your woman to act like your best guy friends, they have different brains. Help her take care of the home, it's really-

Tana Amen: Oh my gosh, that is foreplay-

Daniel Amen: Important.

Tana Amen: I'm just saying.

Daniel Amen: Because in California, 90% of mothers work outside the house.

Tana Amen: Right, we're exhausted.

Daniel Amen: They are exhausted, and so if you want to get lucky, she's got to have energy to get lucky and just like you said, it's foreplay.

Tana Amen: Right.

Daniel Amen: Rule number three is, smell great for her.

Tana Amen: I know this sounds really weird but we do have a stronger sense of smell, like you've said, it's part of that maternal thing. If you don't smell good, it actually turns her off and she might not even know it or know why.

Daniel Amen: The important thing is to ask her what she likes because whether it's cologne, or a bath soap, or she actually doesn't like it if you shower because she likes your natural scent-

Tana Amen: Okay, no, most of us don't, let's just fact it. That's a male thing. Sorry.

Daniel Amen: Napoleon wrote to Josephine-

Tana Amen: That's him, because he's a guy and he was a pig.

Daniel Amen: He said, "I'm going to be home in two weeks, please don't shower. Please don't bathe."

Tana Amen: That's because he was a pig. Men, forget what he just said. Women don't like that. Forget that.

Daniel Amen: The female brain is different than the male brain. It's awesome, it's amazing and if you want to learn more, you can check out my book, Unleash The Power of The Female Brain-

Tana Amen: We would end with telling you to know your brain type specifically, because if you have had a brain injury or you've had anything going on like that, it can affect your relationships. Also, know that you are different, like we just said. I am going to add one bonus tip. Women, this is for women, I think it's very destructive to your relationship when you hang out with other women who support your negative thinking about your man. If you go complain about something going on in your marriage, and your girlfriends are like, "You're right, that jerk," And they just support that, it's very destructive.

One thing I did is when I realized how important this is, I actually chose friends who raise me up. I rarely ever do that, but if I am having a problem or I have had a problem and I say, hey, this is what's going on, they will automatically say, "Have you prayed about this, have you talked about this, maybe it is this going on," They raise you up to a different level and raise your expectations. That would be my bonus tip.

Daniel Amen: Same thing for guys. Thank you for listening to us. We will talk to you next time.