complementary differences

The brains come of age

As children, the way the hormones set to minds of boys and girls apart put a certain distance between them. At adolescence, that distance become a chasm.

In girls, at around the age of eight the level of female hormone begins to rise. The body becomes more rounded, the breast swell, and at about the age of thirteen the menstrual cycle begins.

The hormones of boys come on stream about two years later than girls, as the voice wobbles down from its piping treble to a clumsy tenor, the hairline begins to recede, the testicles drop, and their sexual equipment, responding to conscious and unconscious urges, takes on a life of its own.

What we can now understand, is that while the bodily changes alter the psyche, the biochemistry itself alters our behaviour, perceptions, emotions, and abilities. Hormones are mind chemicals.

In the case of boys, the hormone principally involved is testosterone, an anabolic steroid, helps to build up the body, beefing up the capacity to store calcium, phosphorus and other elements vital to the repair and growth of muscle and bone. It helps give the male teenager a body ratio of 40% protein to 15% fat.

Boys also develop many more red blood cells than is the case with girls, and, as the red cells carry energy-burning oxygen round the body, they can enjoy the advantage of physiological superiority in leading a more active and strenuous life.

The principal female hormones are oestrogen and progesterone. They break down proteins and dietary fats, and redistributes the fat around the body. The girls will have a different ratio of bodily protein and fat – 23% protein to 25% fat.

The brain has been structured to respond to specific male or female hormones in puberty. That is female hormones have a much stronger impact upon a brain which is, by its very design, more sensitive to their effect, while a male brain is predisposed, again by design, to react to male hormones.

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