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Males slow to realise 'men are quick thinkers' claim could offend
Roger Dobson and Will Iredale, London
February 07, 2005
BOYS may be outperformed by girls at school but there is a glimmer of hope for them. Researchers claim to have found scientific proof that men can think faster than women.

Their study found that men's brain cells could transmit nerve impulses faster than women's – potentially giving males the intellectual edge.

The claim will add fuel to the debate recently triggered by Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University, who challenged the prevailing wisdom when he suggested women were innately less able than men in subjects such as maths and science.

The new study is likely to prompt similar anger. This weekend, the intellectual credentials of the researchers – all male – were themselves already being challenged by other eminent neurologists. In the study, scientists measured nerve conduction velocity, the speed at which messages passed through and between brain cells.

Other studies have suggested the speed of such impulses is linked to intelligence, drawing parallels with computers, where faster processors result in more power to carry out tasks quickly.

The latest paper, to be published shortly in the academic journal Intelligence, will say: "Males had four faster NCVs than females. This very significant sex difference in all test conditions in favour of males was most unexpected."

Under the research, scientists carried out investigations on 186 male and 201 female Canadian students, who were subjected to a battery of cognitive tests to assess their intelligence and other mental skills.

Researchers also measured the length of their subjects' heads to estimate the distance impulses would have to travel from the eye to the primary visual cortex, which interprets what someone is seeing.

Then they used electrodes to measure how long it took for an image flashed in front of the eye to send an impulse back to the visual cortex.

Professor Edward Reed, a zoologist at Toronto University, and Philip Vernon and Andrew Johnson, psychologists at the University of Western Ontario, found the impulses were speeding through men's brains faster than through women's. They suggest this is because the nerves in men's brains have a slightly thicker coating of myelin, a fatty material which protects the nerves and improves conductivity.

The report concludes: "We find that males have four faster NCVs than females with each of the three test conditions, probably due to their faster increase of white matter in the brain during adolescence."

The researchers appear to have realised only recently that such conclusions could prove political and controversial. This weekend all three were refusing to comment on their findings although Vernon said he would consider replying to emails.

It has long been clear that men's and women's brains do have important differences and each tends to perform certain tasks slightly better than the other. For example, some studies suggest men have better spatial skills, while women may be more emotionally aware and verbally fluent.

However, most experts point out that the differences are small compared with the similarities and that there is far more variation between individuals than genders.

Bruce Burns, assistant professor in the department of psychology at Michigan State University, conducted a study of chess players, suggesting those who were quicker thinkers were likely to make better moves.

He said: "There is controversy about sex difference but there seems to be a fair amount of agreement that men do tend to have better visual spatial skills. However, I am not sure we can say that makes them more intelligent."

Desmond Morris, the social anthropologist and zoologist, said evolutionary pressures were likely to have given men and women slightly different skills. "Perhaps men's better visual responses came from having to hunt animals while women developed personal skills from child-rearing and co-operating to grow or gather plants," he said.

However, others reject such simple analyses, comparing the methods of the Canadian research to phrenology, a discredited Victorian science which attempted to link intelligence, creativity and other mental faculties to the size and shape of people's skulls.

Professor Steven Rose, director of the brain and behaviour research group at Britain's Open University, said previous studies suggested no difference in decision-making between men and women. "It is true that men and women use different parts of the brain for similar tasks but the time taken to complete the tasks is identical."

Bea Campbell, the feminist writer and historian, also questioned the findings. "The distribution of intelligence is much the same for all genders and all races," she said. "Our experience and common sense tells us that the quest to prove one or another biological group is brainier than the other is really a vain exercise."

The Sunday Times
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+1 for the men.
 

Espion

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You are just determined to have nothing constructive to say, aren't you? Good luck with life, kiddo.
 
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Espion said:
You are just determined to have nothing constructive to say, aren't you? Good luck with life, kiddo.
"constructive" is in the eye of the beholder
 

TruckGirl

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I don't see anything wrong with the article.
 

pillowhead

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TruckGirl said:
I don't see anything wrong with the article.
There's nothing particularly wrong with it but there's nothing particularly useful about it either. As the author says,


"However, most experts point out that the differences are small compared with the similarities and that there is far more variation between individuals than genders."
 

onmyown0805

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It would have been nice to have citations to the original published articles; newspapers don't summarize the statistical details including threats to the studies' validity and effect sizes.

Intelligence is an overrated thing anyway, especially now that I know that men have more of it!

:laugh:

--Caroline
 
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onmyown0805 said:
It would have been nice to have citations to the original published articles; newspapers don't summarize the statistical details including threats to the studies' validity and effect sizes.

Intelligence is an overrated thing anyway, especially now that I know that men have more of it!

:laugh:

--Caroline
it was more for a joke than a real post. i'm glad you got a laugh, caroline.
 

neoncandle

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Does this mean that there will soon be a drug to make us think faster?
 
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neoncandle said:
Does this mean that there will soon be a drug to make us think faster?
they already put the drug in birth control. it's a covert op by The Man to see if they can bring women's brains 'up to speed.'
 

Bhavesh

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But the real question is: does man think faster than the computer?
 
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Bhavesh said:
But the real question is: does man think faster than the computer?
i do... can't say teh same for some of my classmates though :oops:
 

xdopaminex

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Human beings have a wide range of variation--males make up both the majority of geniuses and ******s.

Anyway, does it help you knowing that males are smarter than females (or vice versa)? These reports are based on 'average' people and shouldn't have relevance to most of us, as we are striving to be to the right of the bell curve, ie. ABOVE average.