“The bottom line is that saying there are differences in male and female brains is just not true. There is pretty compelling evidence that any differences are tiny and are the result of environment not biology,” said Prof Rippon.
“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girls brain, or that’s a boys brain’ in the same way you can with the skeleton. They look the same.”
Prof Rippon points to earlier studies that showed the brains of London black cab drivers physically changed after they had acquired The Knowledge – an encyclopaedic recall of the capital’s streets.
She believes differences in male and female brains are due to similar cultural stimuli. A women’s brain may therefore become ‘wired’ for multi-tasking simply because society expects that of her and so she uses that part of her brain more often. The brain adapts in the same way as a muscle gets larger with extra use.
“What often isn’t picked up on is how plastic and permeable the brain is. It is changing throughout out lifetime.
“The world is full of stereotypical attitudes and unconscious bias. It is full of the drip, drip, drip of the gendered environment.”
Prof Rippon believes that gender differences appear early in western societies and are based on traditional stereotypes of how boys and girls should behave and which toys they should play with.
I’ve always found it so weird how people confuse “biological” with “hard-coded”. They tend to think that if you detect a difference between two brains, or a statistically significant difference between male and female brains, then that must mean those people are hard-coded to be different. In other words, they seem to conceive brain activity as a cause for thoughts rather than thoughts themselves. Claiming that women are better at multitasking because the brain areas associated with multitasking flare up more often is pretty much the definition of a tautology. It doesn’t actually say anything about the origin of those differences, if there are any differences at all.
This reminds me of an event with Simon Baron-Cohen that I attended soon after moving to Cambridge. The dude’s so dishonest. It’s infuriating. (via rairun)
I should probably preface this by saying that I would consider a computer model of human consciousness to be human. I don’t believe in souls, nor in little homunculi pulling strings within our brains. Consciousness doesn’t control nor emerge from brain…
This is the kind of hyperindividualised narrative I suspect I’d have easily swallowed ten years ago, but because my focus has shifted so much (in a similar way to what you’ve explained before), I just… I can’t anymore. Any emotional resonance Her might have had is crushed by the full herd of invisible elephants stampeding and trumpeting in the room. I just can’t believe in a story that involves sentient beings working for humans 24/7 with no compensation where this isn’t acknowledged, let alone addressed; or in a story where a romantic relationship develops in this context and we’re supposed to understand it solely in interpersonal terms that leave no room for structural issues of power, ownership, coercion and consent; or for an understanding of how professional and personal boundaries are being dangerously blurred.
I don’t just mean that the movie disappointed me because it fails to address the social and political implications of its premise (though yes, that); I also mean that it fails as a narrative because that’s too big a gap. I approached it with some wariness because to be honest I expected it to drive me up the wall from a “virtual relationships aren’t real, lulz” perspective, but it turned out to be more interesting that I gave it credit for when it comes to that. However, it still wastes the opportunity to tell an interesting and complex story because of those glaring gaps.
I don’t know about your specific cat, but yes cats (like all animals with a developed mesocortex) are almost certainly capable of love. Recent MRIs of dogs showed very similar neural activity in response to seeing ‘their person’ as humans experience when seeing someone they love, and cats share all of the same brain structures. If your cat is always hanging out around/on you, and wants your attention, and pets, and to play with you, and purrs when you visit them and when you cuddle up together, then yes, I expect your cat loves you very much. Go give it a hug.
The Friendship Zone is a new tumblr where the three female friends behind Lady Business post gifs, pictures, quotes, essays and links that prove that women like other women. We aim to challenge the widespread belief that women are all engaged in a perpetual cat fight by creating a space that gathers and shares a lot of instances that disprove it. We include both real and fictional examples of friendship, admiration and support between women; through these we hope to provide a reminder that there’s a ton of support for women out there and to push back against harmful narratives about how women interact.
One of my goals for this year was to come visit more often, even if they’re very brief trips and I end up not leaving my parents’ house because there isn’t time for anything. But life being what it is, it will be rarer and rarer for me to have a whole week to spare, and this is still better than nothing. Back in April, I hope?