The Essential Difference: Male And Female Brains And The Truth About Autism

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Basic Books, Apr 29, 2009 - Psychology - 288 pages
We all know the opposite sex can be a baffling, even infuriating, species. Why do most men use the phone to exchange information rather than have a chat? Why do women love talking about relationships and feelings with their girlfriends while men seem drawn to computer games, new gadgets, or the latest sports scores? Does it really all just come down to our upbringing? In The Essential Difference, leading psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen confirms what most of us had suspected all along: that male and female brains are different. This groundbreaking and controversial study reveals the scientific evidence (present even in one-day-old babies) that proves that female-type brains are better at empathizing and communicating, while male brains are stronger at understanding and building systems-not just computers and machinery, but abstract systems such as politics and music. Most revolutionary of all, The Essential Difference also puts forward the compelling new theory that autism (and its close relative, Asperger's Syndrome) is actually an example of the extreme male brain. His theory can explain why those who live with this condition are brilliant at analyzing the most complex systems yet cannot relate to the emotional lives of those with whom they live. Understanding our essential difference, Baron-Cohen concludes, may help us not only make sense of our partners' foibles, but also solve one of the most mysterious scientific riddles of our time.

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User Review  - ThePinesLibrary - LibraryThing

This ground-breaking and controversial study reveals the scientific evidence (present even in one-day-old babies) which proves that female-type brains are better at empathizing and communicating ... Read full review

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User Review  - jwrudn - LibraryThing

That rare scientifically fascinating book for the non scientist. Thought provoking. Will change the way you think about men and women. A Men are from Mars, Women from Venus for intelligent readers. Read full review


Boy Meets Girl
Evolution of the Male and Female Brain
The Extreme Male Brain
A Professor of Mathematics
The Reading the Mind in the EyesTest
The Empathy Quotient EQ
The Systemizing Quotient SQ
The Autism Spectrum Quotient AQ

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Page 248 - Are the central nucleus of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis differentially involved in fear versus anxiety?
Page 239 - Sex, succession and stratification in the first six civilizations: How powerful men reproduced, passed power on to their sons, and used their power to defend their wealth, women and children.
Page 254 - How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.
Page 235 - U. (1999). The neuroanatomy of autism: a voxel-based whole brain analysis of structural scans.
Page 3 - Systemizing is the drive to analyze, explore, and construct a system. The systemizer intuitively figures out how things work, or extracts the underlying rules that govern the behavior of a system.
Page 2 - Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion.

About the author (2009)

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Cambridge University and co-director of its Autism Research Centre. He has carried out research into both autism and sex differences over a twenty-year career. He is the author of Autism: The Facts and Mindblindness.

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