Science Says Men Don’t Mature Until Their 40’s. What does that Say About Womens and Mens Brains?


drunk man passed out on a white leather couch

Most people assume that women mature faster than men. Researchers decided to test this theory using brain scans to determine whether there is truly a difference between men and female brains. Besides for maturity, they studied whether the brain can explain other behavioral distinctions between the sexes.

A survey was published in 2013 discussing the maturity rate of men and women. Both sexes were involved in this study and they all seemed to agree that men stay ‘immature’ into their late 30s and 40s, on average, age 43. For women, the fully mature around 32, 11 years earlier.

Funny enough, men were twice more likely to dub themselves as ‘immature’ as opposed to women, where only one in four claimed men were more immature.

Some of the ‘maturity failures’ listed in the survey included:

  • Finding burps and farts hilarious
  • Having Mom cook/do laundry for them
  • Being unable to cook simple meals
  • Playing practical jokes
  • Changing jobs regularly
  • Littering
  • Bragging about attracting girls
  • Driving too fast or with loud music
  • Staying quiet during an argument

However, many people in the survey believed that immaturity has its upsides. Four in ten believed it keeps the relationship fresh and fun. One in three claimed it promotes bonding with children. [1]

According the Brain: When Men and Women Mature

A survey does have its research flaws, but a study from Oxford seems to at least partially back up the idea that men mature more slowly. The scientists studied the brains of 121 subjects between the ages of 4 to 40 years old to measure the brains’ development of functional and structural network properties.

They found that though both sexes develop the capabilities, men’s brains delayed in the development of these functional networks. Women, however, showed an earlier deterioration of the networks than men. [2]

Research conducted by Newcastle University follows this train of thought. They focused on the streamlining connections in the brain, particularly ‘long-distance connections’ that are imperative for integrating and preserving information.

These connections between distant brain regions sometimes break in what is called “preferential detachment.” This happens as the brain matures to maintain a stable brain network while these changes occur. 

Ms. Sol Lim, one of the lead scientists of the study, explains: “The loss of connectivity during brain development can actually help to improve brain function by reorganizing the network more efficiently. Say instead of talking to many people at random, asking a couple of people who have lived in the area for a long time is the most efficient way to know your way. In a similar way, reducing some projections in the brain helps to focus on essential information.”

The research found that breaks and changes occur earlier in female subjects than males. [3] 

Other Differences Between Male and Female Brains

The different schedules of development and maturity aren’t the only differences between men and women’s brains.

The brains of men are larger and weigh about 350 thousand grams on average. Women’s weigh 250 thousand. However, women’s brains tend to be more efficient. All of the structures in the brain that relate to associative memory, cognition, and logic are bigger in female brains. For example, women have 20% more cingulum, which is related to processing physical and moral pain. The corpus callosum, which relates to communication is stronger in women by 30%. 

“This results in two hemispheres that are in constant communication and continually contributing to the analysis of information,” said Eduardo Calixto, professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of the UNAM and head of Neurobiology of the Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz National Institute of Psychiatry.

“This is why, in part, women do have a greater neurobiological capacity to generate responses, which is hard for men. They can drive, talk, do several things, and we have trouble doing one thing at a time.”

The brains of men tend to be more geographically oriented and better at visual and spatial perception, thereby mathematical equations. However, this doesn’t mean women can’t excel in this area, just like there many men who simply aren’t good at math. 

“There is no better brain than another,” declared Calixto. His goal with his research is to understand the strengths of each sex so they can use them to their advantage. [4]

Psychologist Stuart Ritchie led a team of researchers for a new study to determine the differences between male and female brains. Their participants included 2,750 women and 2,466 men from the ages 44–77, and all of them underwent MRI brain scans.

They found that women tended to have thicker cortices than men, the part of the brain that is associated with higher scores on cognitive and general intelligence tests. Men had higher brain volumes in the subcortical regions, which relate to memory, decision-making, learning, and processing and relaying sensory information to other parts of the brain. However, these volumes varied, more among men than women.

There was a lot of overlap between brain volumes and cortical thickness among men and women, just as one would find with height. If someone would take a random brain scan from this study, it would not be clear what sex it is from. That suggests that both brains are more similar than different. 

Yet, Ritchie isn’t focused on concluding what these results say about behavior and intelligence. For now, he is working on purely researching the anatomical differences. [5]

Which Brain is Better?

Christia Spears Brown, PhD, a developmental and social psychologist at the University of Kentucky seems to agree with Ritchie’s approach. “Pink brains and blue brains are easy to sell in a world where we have been told for generations that men are from Mars and women are from Venus,” she said.

“Research by behavioral psychologists has shown in studies with one million-plus people that our individual differences are much larger than any group-level gender difference, and that no individual fits the male or female stereotype perfectly.”

Although men and women seem to have many differences, it’s impossible to classify the sexes into neat definitions of ‘boys do this’ and ‘girls do that.’ People are too complicated. 

Just as Ritchie found variations in brain sizes and structures among the same sex, there are variations of behaviors and thought processes among the same sex as well. The neat boxes of male and female personalities ignore men who are good at multitasking and cry easily and women who excel at math and are more analytical than emotional.

It is rare to find a person with a pure “male brain” or “female brain.” Most people are a mosaic of both. [6] 

Does it Really Matter?

Although women tend to mature faster than men in certain areas, there are always exceptions to the rule. 

Speed of maturity doesn’t necessarily reflect on which is the smarter sex either. After all, it doesn’t matter whose brain is larger or seems to work better; this is not a battle of the sexes. The brain is complex and varies from person to person, not just from sex to sex. 

Men may want to “laugh at their own farts” into their 40s. It’s safe to assume there are probably women laughing right there with them.

  1. Men grow up at 43 – 11 years later than women June 10, 2013
  2. Sol Lim,  Cheol E. Han,  Peter J. Uhlhaas,  Marcus Kaiser. Preferential Detachment During Human Brain Development: Age- and Sex-Specific Structural Connectivity in Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) Data December 15, 2015
  3. Newcastle University. Brain connections may explain why girls mature faster. December 19, 2013
  4. Arturo Sánchez Jiménez. Men’s brains are bigger, but not more efficient. March 17, 2018
  5. Michael Price. Study finds some significant differences in brains of men and women April 11, 2017
  6. Christia Spears Brown, PhD. Everything You Believe Is Wrong: There Is No Such Thing As A Male Or Female Brain July 24, 2017

The post Science Says Men Don’t Mature Until Their 40’s. What does that Say About Womens and Mens Brains? appeared first on The Hearty Soul.


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