Plasticity and the Gendered Brain: Trading Essence for Potential

Tuesday, February 28, 2012
4:00 – 6:00 pm
UCLA, Royce 314

Rebecca Jordan-Young, Assistant Professor, Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College

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Talk will consider contemporary approaches to studying and describing sex/gender in relation to neuroscience.  In spite of the growing emphasis on plasticity, there is still widespread credence given to the notion that some subset of sex/gender-linked factors are fundamentally “hardwired”.  If we began with the evidence, would a theory of “male” or “female” brains emerge? This talk will consider this notion of an “innately gendered” brain from three directions. First, it reviews the evidence that the hardwiring theory is not consistent with empirical research on humans. Second, it considers what is actually known about the shape and variation of male-female differences in cognition and personality.  Finally, it looks at the “norms of reaction” concept, established for many decades in biology, to consider how we could address research questions that are more genuinely interactionist than current studies allow.

Rebecca Jordan-Young is the author of “Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences.”

Cosponsored by:
UCLA Department of Women’s Studies
Center for the Study of Women

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