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October 01, 2007



On the average I've been reading books at the rate of about 1.5 per week for over two decades. I read BRAIN SEX about 15 years ago, and it's one of the few books I specifically remember -- amazing after so long.

The authors made the point that the mother's hormonal states during critical hours or days of early gestation play a huge role in determining the ultimate configuration of the developing fetal brain. Thus a genetically female person could end up with a brain bearing more physiological resemblance to the stereotypical male brain than a female one.

This is not a case of either/or, it occurs on a continuum.

They identified other factors beyond the mix in the maternal hormonal soup that influence brain development as well as gender identity. I do not recall the authors mentioning that such changes may become embedded in DNA, RNA or whatever, but I do remember specifically noting that they do not preclude this possibility.

The book was exciting, and rang true. I know many women who, though "typically feminine" in most respects, "think like men," and this meticulously documented book provides scientific evidence pointing to likely reasons.

I've hung onto that CONTINUUM concept ever since. Regardless of the source of the differences, the fact is, people are unique, and our differences obviously spread along a continuum rather than into dichotomies. It's so refreshing that science, specifically neuroscience, is now providing defensible underpinnings that support what has been intuitively obvious for millenia!

David Elliott

It's about time we had more popular books written by people who have actually researched the field. Very few of the books claiming the existence of an innate "gender difference" in mentality are actually written by professionals (and no, John Gray is not a real doctor). Even Simon Baron-Cohen, who is a professional doctor, is not an expert on "gender difference research" - and he has an axe to grind, as his pet theory regarding autism depends entirely upon the existence of fundamental differences between men and women.

I would recommend a book by neuroscientist Steven Rose, "The Future of the Brain", for anyone interested in what physical brains have to do with *determining* a human's personality (it's actually not that much).

Another neuroscientist, Cordelia Fine, is also a good person to look up. She's a neurobiologist who says whenever she looks out into what the public thinks that neuroscience research has uncovered, it always seems to have little resemblance to what neuroscientists have actually found - especially when it comes to gender difference.

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