Melissa Hines Brain Gender

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Brain Gender Brain Gender, written by Melissa Hines, contains many different topics, the majority of which were new to me. Because almost all of the information discussed in Brian Gender or in class was new, I am choosing to write about the ones that I found most interesting. The influence of hormones on behavior and cognition is widely discussed throughout the book. Both nature and nurture influence sex type behavior. “Sex and Play,” the title of Hines’ sixth chapter, sparked my interest. This chapter goes into depth about the causes of how, or with whom, children play. Children learn the difference between girl and boy toys at a young age. “By twelve months of age, boys and girls prefer different toys” (Hines 109). Boys tend to play…show more content…
This number is not surprising at all. At a young age, anywhere from 4-10 years, boys and girls form ideals about children of the opposite sex. I remember when I was that age, all girls had “cooties,” and therefore, we stayed away from them. In the girls’ minds, boys played too rough, and, therefore, they stayed away from us as well. However, there were those few exceptions. For example, there was always that girl who was too rough for the other girls and would be the only one playing tag at recess with the boys. According to Hines, there is an explanation: prenatal exposure to high levels of androgen. Exposure of androgen prenatally is commonly attributed to congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This usually leads to the formation of a “tomboy.” The “tomboy” plays with boy toys, does boy activities, and has many boy playmates. The same hormonal exposure to boys has less of an effect when compared to…show more content…
The issue being raised was easy to understand, but the mass variability in the data Hines provided made her claims at the end of the chapter rather shallow. Hines raises the question of whether or not certain hormones, androgen and gonadal, influence cognition. She initially points out the sex differences found in males and females, and then compares different studies to determine if this exposure to a certain hormone increases cognition in non-sex typical traits. For example, if prenatal exposure to androgen increases a female’s spatial skills, which is considered to be a male characteristic. Hines first shows studies where androgen does increase cognitive abilities, and then shows ones where it has no effect. She continues to do this throughout the chapter, citing study after study, all with conflicting results. When I get to the end of the chapter, to the conclusion, the first sentence reads, “In summary, it is reasonable to hypothesize that hormones influence the development or expression of aspects of human cognitive performance that show sex differences” (Hines 181). She follows that up by saying that there isn’t enough consistent supporting data to assume any influences. In my opinion, that chapter was a wash. She puts research into a claim, doesn’t find enough evidence to support it, and then still takes up a whole chapter of her book with
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