Monday, September 25, 2006

Encephalon Seven

Encephalon 7th Edition now available at Omni Brain!

[or should I say Ensexalon?]
I figured we should start with the usual topics of the Omni Brain blog - sex, drugs, and rock and roll!

The Neurocritic's fictitious rendition of the stimuli from the study of Ponseti et al. (2006).

And still more sex on the brain! In The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer links to a Boston Globe article by Mark Liberman, who had previously written three excellent critiques of The Female Brain in Language Log.

Sex on the brain
By Mark Liberman

. . .

The Female Brain has made quite a splash since its publication last month, and this word-count claim is one of the most striking facts supporting her argument that the female brain is "a lean, mean communicating machine." The 20,000 vs. 7,000 numbers have been cited in reviews all over the world, from The New York Times to the Mumbai Mirror.

Since Brizendine is the director of a clinic at UCSF, one of the world's most important biomedical research institutions, and her book provides 90 pages of endnotes and references to back up 180 pages of text, I hoped it would finally give me a reliable source for this statistic.

The book's endnotes appear to attribute the numbers to a 1997 self-help book by Allan Pease and Allan Garner, Talk Language: How to Use Conversation for Profit and Pleasure. But Pease himself has presented several different word count numbers in other sources. In 2000, he published Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps (with Barbara Pease), which attributes to women "6,000-8,000 words," while men get "just 2,000-4,000 words." (They also offer daily counts for women's and men's "vocal sounds" and "facial expressions, head movements, and other body language signals"-but don't provide a source for any of the counts.) In a 2004 CNN interview, Allan Pease said that "women can speak 20,000 to 24,000 words a day versus a man's top end of 7,000 to 10,000."

And finally, Coturnix points to Sex, Science and Stereotypes, in which conservative political pundit David Brooks is taken to task, by Echidne of the Snakes, for his (mis)use of neuroscience research to "validate ancient stereotypes about the sexes" [don't worry if you don't get NYT Select, The Snake Goddess quotes the most relevant portions]. But of course, he's no neuroscientist; he relies on Louann Brizendine's book.

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