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IntroductionWhat makes a Man

Scientific research excludes women because it is believed that menstrual cycles ruin
the data
Male is used a default model for understanding human biology and behavior
o Male = Simple
o Female=Complex
Brizendines clinical work and the research in fields from neuroscience to evolutionary
biology prove otherwise
Through every phase of life, the brain structures and hormones of boys and men
create a male reality that is fundamentally different from the female one and
frequently oversimplified and misunderstood
Male cell has Y chromosome and female does not
Male brain biology (testicles produce and testosterone marinates the brain and alters
its structure) produces distinctly male behavior
25 years of clinical experience as a neuropsychiatrist
Explores how particular behaviors are programmed into the male brain by nature and
Powerful new scientific tools allows scientists to see inside the working human brain
while performing different activity and in different situations
In the female brain, the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and oxytocin predispose
brain circuits toward female-typical behaviors
In the male brain, testosterone, vasopressin, and a hormone called MIS (Mllerian
inhibiting substance) 3that have the earliest and most enduring effects
Men use different brain circuits to process spatial information and solve emotional
o Brain circuits are wired to the muscles differently (especially in the face)
o Male and female brains are similar but they arrive at and accomplish the same
goals and tasks using different circuits
Men have 2 times the brain space devoted to sexual drive in their hypothalamus
Men have larger brain centers for muscular action and aggression
o Brain circuits for mate protection and territorial defense are hormonally
primed for action starting at puberty
Larger processors in the core of the most primitive area of the brain, the amyglada,
which registers fear/triggers protective aggression
Men and women have a deep misunderstanding of the biological and social instincts
that drive the other sex
Brain architecture is not set in stone at birth or at the end of childhood but continues
to change throughout life
Men must be strong, brave, and independent. They grow up with the pressure to
suppress their fear and pain, hide their emotions, and stand confidently in the face of
o Although men crave closeness and cuddling as much as or perhaps even more
than women, if they show these desires, they are misjudged as soft or weak
by other men and by women too
How much of gendered behavior is innate and how much is learned?
Is miscommunication between sexes biologically based?
Understanding the male brain can help create more realistic expectations for men and
dispel the negative stereotypes of masculinity that both men and women have to accept

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Chapter 1The Boy Brain

Boys are programmed to move, male things move, and watch things move.
o Scientists once believed that this stereotypical boy behavior was the result of
socialization, but we know now that the greater motivation for movement is
biologically wired into the male brain
Scientists have found that male-specific neurons may be directly linked to stereotypical male
From an early age, boys are interested in different activities than girls
o These differences are reinforced by culture and upbringing, but they begin in the brain
Baby boys get emotionally worked up faster than girls and are harder to soothe
Baby boys arent as interested in eye contact but with movement, shapes, etc.
Boys brains are built in two stages during fetal development
o During weeks 8-18 testosterone forms in the testicles masculinize the body and the
brain, forming the brain circuit that control male behavior
o During the remaining months of pregnancy, the hormone MIS joins with testosterone
and defeminizes the brain and body (suppresses brain circuits for female-type
behaviors and kills of female productive organs)
o Male reproductive organs grow and typical male behavior develops
Scientists found that when they bred male mice to lack the MIS hormone, they behaved and
played more like female mice
Infantile puberty: period from birth until a boy is a year old in which a boys brain is being
marinated in the same high levels of testosterone as an adult man which stimulates a boys
muscles to grow larger and improves his motor skills and prepare him for rough play
o After this period, testosterone drops but MIS hormone remains high from age 1-10. This
period is known as juvenile pause
By the time a boy is 7 months old, he can tell by his mothers face when shes angry or afraid
By the time a boy is 12 months old he builds up an immunity to his mothers expressions and
can easily ignore them
By 27 months, boys will more often go behind their parents back and break the rules
Fathers have to warn or command their children (boys and girls) twice as much
Male brains get a huge surge of pleasure when they play with their penis
Boys and girls prefer the toys of their sex
o Girl will play with boys toys
o By the age of 4, boys will reject girls toys and things that are girl colors
Boys = competitive games
Girls = cooperative games/take turns more often
Boys turn objects into weapons instinctively
By the time a boy is 3 1/2 , the greatest insult is being called a girl
Victory is very important to boys determines social ranking
Brian juvenile pause, the boys imitate older males, especially men who stand out as alpha
A study of boys in a first grade classroom found that boys pay most attention to other boys,
then teachers, and lastly, other girls
o Boys often ignore girls altogether
By age 2, a boys brain drives him to establish physical and social dominance
o Fighting is the most important thing to be good at
Alpha boys are the ones who dont back down from conflict
o These boys often have higher testosterone
Boys brains release dopamine when playing video games
o The neurons mimic the movement of video game characters
From age 5 and on, mental rotation of objects is one of the biggest cognitive differences
between boy and girls
Around age 11, the juvenile-pause stage of a boys life begins winding down.
o Starts to exude new scents

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Male sweat glands under the influence of testosterone giving off small amounts of the
pheromone called androstenedione
o Signals the dawn of puberty
Rise in testosterone creates new interests in girls

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Chapter 2The Teen Boy Brain

The teen brain in both sexes a distinctly different from the pre-adolescent brain
When a boy enters puberty he may seem like a whole new person and in a sense,
he is.
Testosterone were beer, a nine year old boy would get the equivalent of about 1
cup a day
o By age 15, it would be equal to 2 gallons a day
From then on, testosterone biologically masculinizes all the thoughts and
behaviors that emerge from the male brain
Enlarges testicles, activates growth of muscles and bones, makes beard and
pubic hair grow, deepens voice, lengthens and thicken
Sexual-pursuits circuits in hypothalamus grow (more than twice as large than
those in girls brains)
Testosterone and vasopressin together make the male brain territorial and
sensitive to putdowns
Teens hormonally enhanced brain circuits will stabilize when they are in their
late teens or early twenties
Boys cause 90% of disruptions in the classroom
80% of high school dropouts are boys
Boys get 70% of the Ds and Fs and set testosterone receptors reset a teen boys
clock cells in his brain so he stays up later at night and sleeps later in the day
When a boy enters puberty and his body and voice change, his facial expressions
also change, and so does the way he perceives other peoples facial expressions
Vasopressin hormonally drives the brain to see the neutral faces of others as
The angry face is used to maintain power within the male hierarchy of primates
and humans.
o The angriest faces typically belong to the men with the most testosterone
o These boys with the highest testosterone also reported being more
irritable and impatient
o Testosterone levels rise in response to seeing an angry face in, thus dialing
up the brain circuits for aggression
Teen Males also begin to perceive voices and other sounds differently
o During male fetal brain development, testosterone affects the formation of
the auditory system in the connections within the brain
Teen boys are sensitive to criticism
o Friends approval is valued more than parents
If you cant win, pretend not to care
Testosterone levels increase before a competition
According to studies, when teen boys are in a group, their brains experience
excitement and emotional euphoria that makes them more willing to do risky
Researchers find that when boys are with peers, they have more car wrecks and
generally suffer more negative consequences of unsafe, impulsive choices
Drug and alcohol abuse is reported to increase when teen boys are together
Teens have two distinct systems running their brains

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The activating system (led by the amygdala) develops firstimpulsive and

gets double stimulation when with peers
o The inhibiting system (the prefrontal cortexPFC)carefully thinks things
through/weighs the risks
o The inhibiting system doesnt mature and boys until their early twenties
From puberty into mens mid-20s, they may need to ejaculate 1-3 times a day
(Women masturbate less than once a day)

Chapter 3The Mating Brain: Love and Lust

Men are biologically attracted to fertile females in all cultures and have
evolved to zoom in on features that indicate reproductive health
o Hour glass figure, large breasts, small waist, flat stomach, and full hips
o Tells male brain that she is young, healthy, and not pregnant with
another mans child
o Contact readiness cues-signals that show interest to the others brain
Biologists have discovered that females have more sex with males who bring
them meat
o The Males who showed they were willing to provide food got more
sexual access to the females, increasing their chances of paternity
The female brain wants the hope of love and commitment before having sex,
but for men, sex often comes first
Researchers have shown that nothing serves as a better aphrodisiac for
women than a show of dominance and strength
A study in Sweden found that men one with the long version of the
vasopressin receptor gene were twice as likely to commit to one woman
Three out of four men are willing to lie or modify the truth to persuade
women to have sex with them
o Men exaggerate their wealth, status, and business and social
When women have sex but oxytocin released during orgasm bind womens
brains and bodies closer to men
Men show much less electrical strain when they lie to the opposite sex
o This allows men to deceive in a more convincing manner
For the male brain sex is a necessary part of achieving love
A man falling in love
o Begins at center of brain in the VTA (ventral tegmental area) in which
cells manufacture dopamine
o The dopamine would travel to the NAc or nucleus accumbens the area
for anticipation of pleasure and reward.
o Dopamine mixes with testosterone and vasopressin as opposed to
women where it gets mixed with estrogen and oxytocin (Result is love)
o Finally at the caudate nucleus or CN (the area for memorizing the look
and identity of whoever it is giving you pleasure)
The lust center in the male brain automatically directs men to notice and
visually take in the details of attractive females
o Brain instantly produces a quick sexual thought
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To a mans mating brain, an attractive woman is like a bright, colorful

o Autopilot behavior for the male brain
Mate-poaching: one male tries to lure a woman away from her mate
Researchers have found that the fear of loss or rejection can intensify our
feelings of love.
Affects territoriality and possessive mating instincts
Sex keeps love and lust in sync

Chapter 4The Brain Below the Belt

Rebound transformation: After a brief hiatus, a mans brain biology once again
drives him to seek sex and encourages him to pursue a variety of partners.
Men want an average of fourteen sexual partners in their lifetime
o Women said they wanted an average of one or two
o The disparity in these numbers can be chalked up to mens interest in onenight stands.
Researchers at the University of California found that it takes the male brain only
one fifth of a second to classify a woman as sexually hotor not.
o verdict is made long before a mans conscious thought processes can
even engage
o Brain below the belt knows first
Men can experience anxiety about the way their penis is shaped and many men
fear that their partners will find them too small and will be disappointed.
Most men say they wish they had a larger penis but 85% of women say theyre
happy with their partners size.
All men know that the penis has a will of its own and can rise to attention without
a single command from his brain.
o These reflexive erections are different from true sexual arousal because
they come from unconscious signals from his spinal cord and brain, not
from a conscious desire to have sex.
Prior to their forties, seeing is often all it takes for most men to become fully
After that age, the frequency of the instant hard-on is reduced, and men often
need some physical stimulation to become erect enough for penetration.
Sexual arousal begins in the brain, but it is reinforced by physical contact.
Visual stimulationeven in fantasyis what turns a man on, makes his penis
hard, and keeps it up.
According to sex researchers, men are not only more stirred by sexual visions
than women are, but also want to be more sexually adventurous
During an orgasm brain circuits and body are flooded by norepinephrine,
dopamine, and oxytocin, increasing ecstasy
Up to 40% of young men climax in fewer than 8-15 penile thrusts
More experienced men can teach themselves to last for 7-13 minutes or more.
A condition called premature ejaculation, or PME, can be a source of
embarrassment for men and frustrating for them and their partners.

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Affects between 25 and 40 percent of men in the United States, and most
men have experienced it at least once.
o Can be caused by a variety of psychological factors, such as stress,
depression, a history of sexual repression, and unrealistic expectations
created by the media about mens performance
Men who have high expectations about their sexual performance can sometimes
experience an inability to become erect or stay erect long enough to have sexual
Performance-anxiety center, the amygdala and ACC, can also shut down spinal
generators for erection, as well as capacity to relax/ be hard enough to penetrate
A correct balance between the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and SNS
(sympathetic nervous system) are crucial for a man to get an erection.
The hormone oxytocin can put men to sleep after sex

Chapter 5The Daddy Brain

Studies show that feelings of distress peak for most men four to
six weeks after they discover theyre going to be fathers
o Seldom reveal these worries to their mates
A mans brain changes as his mates pregnancy progresses
o Experience emotional, physical, and hormonal shifts in
parallel with their mates pregnancies.
Research at Harvard University revealed that two major
hormones change in fathers-to-be: testosterone goes down and
prolactin goes up.
Men may be responding to the natural airborne chemicals of
pregnancypheromonesemanating from the mother-to-bes
skin and sweat glands.
In some men, this hormonal shift can cause couvade syndrome
sympathetic pregnancy.
In mice, the fathers pheromones have been found to waft
through the air and into the mothers nose and trigger her to
make more prolactin, a hormone that increases the growth of
maternal brain circuits.
Scientists have found that men have the biggest hormonal leap
from non-dad to dad in the days leading up to the birth.
o Researchers studied fathers-to-be during the last trimester
of their wifes pregnancy and found that these mens
prolactin levels increased by over 20% and their
testosterone dropped 33% during the three weeks before
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o By the time their children were born, they were better at

hearing and emotionally responding to crying babies than
non-dads were.
On average, a mans testosterone and prolactin levels will begin
to readjust when the baby is six weeks old, returning to prefatherhood levels by the time the baby is walking
Dads who are actively involved in taking care of their children
have been found to have lower levels of testosterone than
uninvolved fathers.
Insulathe area for gut feelings
NAc, or nucleus accumbensbrains reward center
A mans brains for thinking and predicting consequences, the
prefrontal cortex (PFC), showed more cells and connections than
in the non-dads
o This brain area has receptors for the so-called fathering
hormones: prolactin, oxytocin, and vasopressin.
Researchers technical word for parent-baby understanding is
Chapter 6Manhood: The Emotional Lives of Men

Differences in how men and women feel and express emotions were thought to
be due to upbringing alone.
o How our parents raise us can reinforce or suppress parts of our basic
The emotional processing in the male and female brain is different.
Research has suggested that our brains have two emotional systems that work
simultaneously: the mirror-neuron system, or MNS, and the temporal-parietal
junction system, or TPJ.
o Males seem to use one system more, and females seem to use the other
system more.
emotional empathy- feeling the same emotional pain you see on anothers face
cognitive empathy- the brain analyze-and-fix-it circuits are activated by the TPJ
as one searches their entire brain for solutions
TPJ keeps a firm boundary between emotions of the self and the other.
o Prevents mens thought processes from being infected by other peoples
emotions, which strengthens their ability to cognitively and analytically
find a solution.
The female brain uses the MNS to stay in sync with other peoples feelings, so
women are often put off by a blank face.
The male brain is structured to seek solutions rather than continue to empathize.
From childhood on, males learn that acting cool and hiding their fears are the
unwritten laws of masculinity.

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Men consciouslyor at least semiconsciouslysuppress showing their emotions

on their faces.
o Meanwhile, the womens facial muscles became more emotionally
Researchers found that when men were given a single high dose of oxytocin (a
hormone that females make more of), it increased their ability to resonate with
other peoples feelings.
o In a separate study, researchers gave women a single high dose of
testosterone and found that it temporarily made them more mentally
A mans brain area for suppressing anger, the septum, is smaller than it is in the
female brain
Men and women report that they feel anger for an equal number of minutes per
day, men get physically aggressive twenty times more often than women do
As a mans frustration grows, wed see his testosterone and stress hormone,
cortisol, activating his amygdala and firing up his fighting circuits.
o good judgment circuits and auditory system shut down
A man may see some actions as a challenge to his territory and dominance, and
his brain may respond with a series of chemical changes prompting aggressive
The brain has two independent memory systems
o One is memory for unemotional objects or events
o The other is for memory enhanced by emotion
Essentially, men remember facts and figures, but women record not only the
facts, but also every detail of the emotion that theyre feeling.
Autocatalyticself-reinforcing anger
Scientists have found that when anger reaches the boiling point in some men,
under conditions of high testosterone, it can produce pleasure, egging them on
and making their anger harder to control.
Research has found that when men are in a stable hierarchy, their testosterone
and cortisol are lower than when theyre not, reducing their tendency toward
anger and aggression.
Scientists have found that a stable social hierarchy and a stable marriage are two
factors that dial down a males tendency to be violent.

Chapter 7The Mature Male Brain

Men in their fifties and sixties, begin to make less testosterone and vasopressin,
and researchers have shown that the ratio of estrogen to testosterone increases
as men get older.
Hormonally the mature male brain is becoming more like the mature female
RCZrostral cingulated zone, the area that registers others opinions of us
ACCthe anxiety and worrywart center
The mature male brain begins to see the world more as it had when he was a
boy, before the hormonal changes at puberty stimulated his circuits for anger
and defense.
o Oxytocin has a bigger calming effect on the brain

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Brain circuits for dominance and the drive to outdo other men become less
intense as testosterone production declines
Researchers have found that mature alpha-male silverback gorillas provide
protection and leadership, maintain group stability, and mediate conflict. And
they continue to offer companionship and protection to females long after their
breeding years with them have subsided
Many younger women see the benefits of a well-established older man.
Men can still reproduce in their older age
The ability of older men to reproduce with younger women, called the late-life
male fertility factor, may be partly responsible for our species long lifespan.
The brains pleasure and reward areas, the VTA and the NAc, remain more active
in men who are social.
When men live alone and become isolatedwhich they do more often than
womentheir daily routines can become repetitive habits that get deeply
engraved into their brain circuits
o Soon, if someone disrupts their routine, they get irritated because their
brains social-flexibility circuits are weakened from disuse.
Married men live 1.7 years longer than single men
When the male brain and body start making less hormones, he enters the socalled andropause, or male menopause
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin surprisingly discovered that drugs like
Viagra can increase the release of oxytocin in the brains of rats by as much as
After andropause, men may have the time and temperament to appreciate family
and friends more.
George Vaillant, found in his ongoing study of men who graduated from Harvard
in the 1950s that in later years they changed their focus from activities that gave
them a personal advantage toward activities that would give their community
and the next generation an advantage and called it the fifth stage of
individuation, or the stage of generativity

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