METRO PLUS

Who is more intelligent?

Today's women who balance domestic and professional lives with self-assurance have changed the notion that men are superior

Is a woman more intelligent than a man? Or is this question silly or irrelevant in the year 2005 when women take rapid strides along with men? Whatever said and done, scientists are continuously exploring the gender gaps in the brains of men and women. Old myths on who excels at what are changing. Thanks to new brain imaging technology, a tour of the brain gives a good look at the living brain as it operates and grows.

New images show that the brain of both men and women are ever changing not just in response to hormones and aging but also in response to motivation, lifestyles, practice and medication. What the brain does best is to change and adapt. Its ability to change is phenomenal. Due to women's empowerment, the gender of the brain is slowly becoming more and more irrelevant and less of a deciding factor. Science, industry and certain other fields are still a man's world, many feel. Or are they? Not any longer, for today an increasing number of girls opts for engineering and technical courses.

The balance thus equalises as more women today refuse to be typecast in conventional, docile roles. Women were also discouraged from holding important positions on the assumption that they would quit on marrying or entering motherhood. Today's women who balance domestic and professional lives with self-assurance and style have changed that concept. Thus will the brains of both sexes be identical before long? Will man's and woman's behaviour and responses turn alike? Still certain distinct patterns that differentiate a man and a woman are still visible in the brain — though for how long is not sure. A man's brain is around 10 per cent larger than a woman's. But, as once assumed, size does not determine intelligence. Studies are thus moving away from the fixation with size. Research shows men are more prone to say and do things unmindful of how they will affect others. And this increases with age, for a tissue behind the forehead concerning self-control and consequences wears off. A woman who tends to use more sides of her brain on the other hand is associated with tact, diplomacy and social sensitivity required of high profile university leaders. Woman school principals are thus outnumbering men in today's world.

Sentiments and emotions are also handled differently. Women utilising better the regions that handle language and higher functions narrate and discuss their emotions and feelings, while men who do their thinking with more focussed sides of the brain keep their worries low profile and carry on. Men are thus at times considered insensitive. With regard to verbal skills, women score. Other differences still visible pertain to perception. A man and a woman would see totally different things on observing a landscape, say scientists. Women see and feel things that men don't. They can also smell and notice colours and textures, which men cannot.

With change being the only permanent feature today, the futuristic lifestyles of the sexes would be interesting to conjure. As more and more men share household duties and more and more women venture into areas that were strictly male, the direction of both sexes seems to head for a common point. What will be the outcome of the pursuit for this mutual meeting ground? Will the new roles of both sexes create an odd and unusual society? Or will there be perfect harmony? Let's wait and watch.

HEMJIT BHARATHAN

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