Editor's note: Dr. Louann Brizendine
is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the
National Board of Medical Examiners, and a clinical professor of
psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She is
founder and director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic. She wrote
"The Female Brain" and, just released, "The Male Brain." Brizendine will appear on HLN's "The Joy Behar Show" tonight
at 9.

Although women the world over have
been doing it for centuries, we can't really blame a guy for being a
guy. And this is especially true now that we know that the male and
female brains have some profound differences.

Our brains are
mostly alike. We are the same species, after all. But the differences
can sometimes make it seem like we are worlds apart.

The "defend
your turf" area — dorsal premammillary nucleus — is larger in the male
brain and contains special circuits to detect territorial challenges by
other males. And his amygdala, the alarm system for threats, fear and
danger is also larger in men. These brain differences make men more
alert than women to potential turf threats.

Meanwhile, the "I
feel what you feel" part of the brain — mirror-neuron system — is
larger and more active in the female brain. So women can naturally get
in sync with others' emotions by reading facial expressions,
interpreting tone of voice and other nonverbal emotional cues.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the male and female brain is
that men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the
one in the female brain. Not only that, but beginning in their teens,
they produce 200 to 250 percent more testosterone than they did during

If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy
would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would
be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their
sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about
female body parts and sex.

And so begins the 'Man Trance'

All that testosterone drives the "Man Trance"– that glazed-eye look
a man gets when he sees breasts. As a woman who was among the
ranks of the early feminists, I wish I could say that men can stop
themselves from entering this trance. But the truth is, they can't.
Their visual brain circuits are always on the lookout for fertile mates.
Whether or not they intend to pursue a visual enticement, they have to
check out the goods.

To a man, this is the most natural response
in the world, so he's dismayed by how betrayed his wife or girlfriend
feels when she sees him eyeing another woman. Men look at attractive
women the way we look at pretty butterflies. They catch the male brain's
attention for a second, but then they flit out of his mind. Five
minutes later, while we're still fuming, he's deciding whether he wants
ribs or chicken for dinner. He asks us, "What's wrong?" We say,
"Nothing." He shrugs and turns on the TV. We smolder and fear that he'll
leave us for another woman.

Not surprisingly, the different objectives that men and women have in
mating games put us on opposing teams — at least at first. The female
brain is driven to seek security and reliability in a potential mate
before she has sex. But a male brain is fueled to mate and mate again.
Until, that is, he mates for life.

Despite stereotypes to the
contrary, the male brain can fall in love just as hard and fast as the
female brain, and maybe more so. When he meets and sets his sights on
capturing "the one," mating with her becomes his prime directive. And
when he succeeds, his brain makes an indelible imprint of her. Lust and
love collide and he's hooked.

The 'Doting Daddy Brain'

A man in hot pursuit of a mate doesn't even remotely resemble a
devoted, doting daddy. But that's what his future holds. When his mate
becomes pregnant, she'll emit pheromones that will waft into his
nostrils, stimulating his brain to make more of a hormone called
prolactin. Her pheromones will also cause his testosterone production to
drop by 30 percent.

These hormonal changes make him more likely
to help with the baby. They also change his perceptual circuitry,
increasing his ability to hear a baby cry, something many men can't do
very well before their wives are pregnant.

And a word to the
wise for all the young mothers who are reluctant to let your husbands
hold and care for your newborn. The more hands-on care a father gives
his infant, the more his brain aligns with the role of fatherhood. So,
hand over the baby.

His emotions run deep

men have earned the reputation for being more stoic than women, they
actually have stronger emotional reactions than we do. They just don't
show it very often.

Studies of men's faces show that the male brain's initial emotional
reaction can be stronger than the female brain's. But within 2.5
seconds, he changes his face to hide the emotion, or even reverse it.
The repeated practice of hiding his emotions gives men the classic poker

It's his poker face and his analytical response to
personal problems that can put him in the doghouse. She's crying as she
talks about what's wrong with the relationship, and instead of hugging
her, his mind is racing to find a way to resolve the problem as soon as
possible. With practice and because of the way their brains are wired,
men use their analytical brain structures, not their emotional ones, to
find a solution.

They enjoy this advantage, but women often take
affront to it. When you're telling your husband your problem and he
tries to solve it instead of hearing you out, you may think he's being
insensitive. But that's not what's going on in his brain. He's working
to solve the problem so he can relieve your pain as quickly as possible.
Not because he doesn't care or doesn't want to listen, but because he
loves you.

'Lovable Grandpas' and 'Grumpy Old Men'

men age, the male brain hormones change and the male brain and body
goes into the stage of life called andropause. The king of male hormones
— testosterone — goes down and the queen of female hormones —
estrogen — goes up. Whether Grandpa is your kids' hero or the grouch
they hate to visit depends a lot on how he handles these hormonal
changes. For example, if his testosterone levels drop to an abnormally
low level, he can feel tired, irritable and even depressed. Some men in
this condition seek hormone replacement therapy and others find relief
in exercise, more frequent sex, and spending more time with other

The grandpa that kids can't wait to see is the one who's feeling the
effects of the hormone oxytocin, often called the "cuddle hormone." He's
fun and playful and likes to hear what his grandchildren have to say.
He's much more patient with your children than he was with you, when you
were growing up. The love circuits of the mature male brain can be
hijacked by his grandkids, even more than they were by his own children.

The 'Lonely Hearts Club'

Not only is the mature male
brain more receptive to closer bonds, but it's also more sensitive to
loneliness. Nobody thrives when they're lonely, but it seems to take a
major toll on older men. Sixty percent of divorces in couples over the
age of 50 are initiated by women, leaving their husbands shell-shocked
and devastated.

Once his wife leaves, unless he makes a point of
socializing more with other people, his brain stops getting the social
workout it needs to make him feel good about himself. If he becomes a
loner, his social-approval circuits don't get activated. In brain scan
studies of older males researchers have found that the brain's pleasure
and reward areas, the VTA and the NAc, remain more active in men who are
social. So don't begrudge the divorcee or the new widower some
socializing and seeking female companionship.

The bottom line

The human brain is the best learning machine on the planet and
human beings are capable of making major changes in our lives. But there
are some things that the male brain and female brain are not likely to
change anytime soon. And it makes more sense to deal with these brain
realities, than to argue with them or ignoring them.

The best
advice I have for women is make peace with the male brain. Let men be

The opinions expressed in this
commentary are solely those of Louann Brizendine.


Source: CNN – http://tinyurl.com/ybth5az