Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gender Differences Strike Again - Language Acquisition

My opinion:  Perhaps girls are stereotyped to be more talkative than boys, but this might be legitimate support for that claim.  I do wish that the article mentioned whether girls may be able to learn multiple languages more easily than boys - I'm not sure if this is controlled by other brain processes or not.  What's really interesting, though, is that a lot of male animals maintain characteristics of female humans, and a lot of female animals maintain characteristics of male humans.  For example, in ducks, the male duck tends to be more brightly colored than the female, but in humans, girls tend to go for the colorful clothes.  I've read that this might be because the female human has the two X genes, but in many other animals, it is actually the male that has these and not the female.  Maybe the same thing is happening here.  Can information like this make people more understanding of gender differences, and can it pose solutions to eliminating disadvantages, or is this too far off?  Feel free to comment.

Males and females acquire language differently: it has been well documented in children, where on average girls tend to speak earlier, with greater complexity, than boys. We also know that animals differ by sex in the ways they communicate. Now a new study from the US may go some way to explaining why, because it finds that the brains of male rat pups contain more "language protein" than their female counterparts, while in humans it appears to be the other way around, boys have less than girls.

The team behind the investigation, from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, writes about the finding in the 20 February online issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

McCarthy, a professor with a primary appointment in pharmacology and Chair, Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, at the School, says in a statement:

"This study is one of the first to report a sex difference in the expression of a language-associated protein in humans or animals."

"The findings raise the possibility that sex differences in brain and behavior are more pervasive and established earlier than previously appreciated," she adds.

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