09/28/07 - girl talk

In today's excerpt - girls speak three times more words per day than boys:

"Under a microscope or an fMRI scan, the differences between male and female brains are revealed to be complex and widespread. In the brain centers for language and hearing, for example, women have 11 percent more neurons than men. The principal hub of emotion and memory formation—the hippocampus—is also larger in the female brain, as is the brain circuitry for language and observing emotions in others. This means that women are, on average, better at expressing emotions and remembering the details of emotional events. Men, by contrast, have two and a half times the brain space devoted to sexual drive as well as larger brain centers for action and aggression. Sexual thoughts floats through a man's brain every fifty-two seconds on average, and through a woman's only once a day. Perhaps three to four times a day on her hottest days. ...

"The numbers vary, but on average, girls speak two to three times more words per day than boys. ... Girls speak faster on average ...  Men haven't always appreciated that verbal edge. In Colonial America, women were put in the town stocks with wooden clips on their tongues or tortured by the 'dunking stool', held underwater and almost drowned—punishments that were never imposed on men—for the crime of 'talking too much.' ...

"There is a biological reason for [this female talking] behavior. Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a girl's brain. Sharing secrets that have romantic and sexual implications activates those centers even more. We're not talking about a small amount of pleasure. This is huge. It's a major dopamine and oxytocin rush, which is the biggest, fattest neurological reward you can get outside of an orgasm. Dopamine is a neurochemical that stimulates the motivation and pleasure circuits in the brain. Estrogen at puberty increases dopamine and oxytocin production in girls. Oxytocin is a neurohormone that triggers and is triggered by intimacy. ...

"Why do ... boys become so taciturn and monosyllabic that they verge on autistic when they hit their teens? The testicular surges of testosterone marinate the boys' brains. Testosterone has been shown to decrease talking, as well as interest in socializing—except when it involves sports or sexual pursuits. In fact, sexual pursuit and body parts become pretty much obsessions."

[Update: See 5/11/11 - do women talk more than men?]


Louann Brizendine, M.D.


The Female Brain


Morgan Road Books a Division of Random House


Copyright 2006 by Louann Brizendine


5, 36-39
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