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PSYCHOLOGY NEWS - Understanding the Brain Wiring Differences Between Men and Women Can Help Improve Communication in Relationships

by Dr. Lynn Margolies



Men and women having trouble talking things out - a research finding shows it may be hard-wired:

…According to MRI studies of the brain, men default to the brain stem - a survival, reactive, primitive brain. From an evolutionary standpoint this was adaptive, since men were in the role of hunters and protectors. Because of this default to fight or flight, it takes longer for men to get information up to the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain that is involved in information processing, thinking things through, being collaborative, communicative - doing the hard thing. Especially in stressful situations.

…Women’s default mode of processing, on the other hand, is the prefrontal cortex - making it instinctive to want to collaborate, connect, communicate, think things through, and plan. This disparity between men and women can create the familiar timing issue between men and women regarding how and when to handle a problem.

Dr. Margolies’ commentary:

...This finding supports the common sense idea that it makes sense to back off a bit when men need space in an interpersonal situation before processing it. Otherwise, things may go downhill further rather than get resolved. We all default to fight or flight when things get too heated - not just men. Noticing your partner’s state of mind, before jumping head first into a discussion, is self-protective and protective of the relationship.


Richards, Greg (2015, November). Insights from Brain Biology for Fostering Character Development, Moral Reasoning, and Decision Making. Paper presented at the Learning & the Brain 42: The Science of Character Conference, Boston, MA.

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Men's Issues

In The Doghouse... Again: Male and Misunderstood

When Men Feel Trapped: A Practical Guide

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Couples Therapy


To see other similar articles, click on the following links: Psychology News

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