Friday, March 2, 2012

Jack's Brain, Jill's Brain

Heather Wiggins is a social worker and therapist from Minnesota, and her presentation highlighted differences between male and female brains. She discussed brain anatomy, focusing on the hippocampus, amygdala, corpus callosum, and frontal lobes. She highlighted what each of these brain parts do, when they are fully developed, and differences between girls and boys.
  • Hippocampus: memory center for short term and simple memories (e.g., 2+2, what you ate for lunch, etc.). It tracks our memories. Not developed until age 2. It is larger in girls during adolescence, but then it evens out. This means young girls have more space for learning and retrieving memories. Stress can literally eat away the hippocampus!
  • Amygdala: Emotional center. Bigger in boys. Keeps us out of any physical or emotional danger. Stores the extreme emotional memories. It never forgets, and is fully developed at birth. It doesn’t think, but just reacts. It’s the part of the brain that rules adolescence and childhood.
  • Corpus Callosum: Bridge connecting the two brain hemispheres. Develops until 12-13 years old.
  • Frontal Lobes: Not developed until 25 - is the last part of brain to fully develop. “Executive Center.” We need frontal lobes to inhibit behavior. It is in charge of impulse control, judgment, reading social clues, organization, time orientation, goal achievement. Boys are typically one year behind girls in frontal lobe development. BDNF is a chemical released during exercise that can make the frontal lobes grow faster. (She noted that exercise helps us grow more brain cells at any age.) Play is essential for children. Interesting factoid: in 1991, researchers discovered that the frontal lobes do not develop until the age of 25. But car insurance and rental companies learned this long ago and have been charging rates accordingly!
She also discussed brain chemistry. Cortisol and Adrenaline VS Serotonin and Dopamine. You want to keep your cortisol/adrenaline low and your serotonin/dopamine high. Teen girls have a drop in serotonin, and boys have a drop in cortisol.

Much of the session seemed to focus on the educational needs of boys. It was very interesting!

No comments:

Post a Comment