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The Female Brain—Explained


Baffled by women in general… or one in particular? Read on for the love lessons hidden in her gray matter.

By Laura Schaefer

ouldn’t it be a relief to finally understand what is happening behind her pretty eyes? Why is it, for example, that the woman in your life is serene one moment, apocalyptic the next? How can she remember details about your life you don’t even recall? And what’s with her taking everything so personally? Chalk it up to female brain chemistry. Here’s how to tailor your courtship to her cortex, hippocampus, etc.

Pay attention to the little things
She’ll see shades of meaning in small gestures, because significant regions of the cortex — the outer layer of a
A small act of kindness will blow her away.
brain that conducts much of its high-level computing — are thicker in the ladies. Therefore, an off-hand comment like, “I’d rather watch the game” might say more than you meant it to. Likewise, a small act of kindness (from a kiss on the cheek to simply calling ahead to make reservations) will blow her away because she’ll consider both the gesture and the thoughtfulness behind the gesture.

To keep up with her memory, take notes
It’s a scientific fact: Women remember everything. The hippocampus takes up a larger percent of the female brain than the male brain, which is good to know because it’s where memories are formed. So while you remember, maybe, the day you met, she’s recorded your first flirtation, first phone call, first date, first kiss, etc. Bottom line? There’s a reason the PDA and the Google calendar were invented: Use these electronic tools to keep up with her mighty hippocampus.

Follow her calm lead versus instigating bar fights
She’s much better at reining in her aggressive impulses than you are. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania measured the size of the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in regulating emotions. They then compared it with the size of the amygdala, which creates emotional reactions to events. They discovered that female brains have a much
It’s a scientific fact: Women remember everything.
larger orbitofrontal-to-amygdala ratio (OAR) than male brains do. That suggests women are better than guys at responding calmly to rudeness or aggression. “The orbital frontal cortex (OFC) is the main ‘modulator’ of amygdala action,” explains researcher Ruben Gur. “So if you are at a party and someone insults you, the amygdala, which is a very primitive and old structure in human brains, will be yelling ‘Kill the guy!’ The OFC is the part of the brain that will say: ‘Consider the context; there are people around.’” Thus, if you want to impress her, quiet your own amygdala and behave as gracefully as she does.

Write her a poem or at least a cute email
“Women excel in something called verbal fluency, or being able to come up with appropriate words, given cues,” says Dr. Larry Cahill of the University of California at Irvine. In general, women’s brains are wired to be more language-centric than men’s. Researchers at McMaster University found that female brains have a greater density of neurons in parts of the temporal lobe cortex, which is the area of the brain associated with language processing and comprehension. This could help explain why women often know the right thing to say, send great cards and love notes, and choose words with such care. In wooing a love interest, it wouldn’t hurt to get the help of a trusted female friend. She’ll know just what to say.

Be her serotonin
Women’s brains produce significantly less serotonin — the brain chemical that helps make us happy — than male brains do. So if she has a tough day at work, treat to her to a transfusion: Try a pep talk, soothing back rub or long hug.


Laura Schaefer is the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time.

Also in this week's Happen: The Male Brain—Explained

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