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Features of the somatic characteristics of men and women

Men and women differ in a variety of morphological characteristics, including body size [16]. A person's height varies between 150–200 cm and depends on a number of factors, among which the main are gender and race. In men, as a rule, growth is greater than in women. For the population of Russia, the average height is about 175 cm for men and 165 cm for women.

Pronounced sex differences exist in the body constitution. For example, the bones of men are characterized by large size, larger articular surfaces, more pronounced places of attachment of muscles. Muscles in men constitute 42% of total body weight, in women - 36%, adipose tissue in men is 12%, and in women 18%. Men and women have significant differences in the proportions of the body - in men compared with women, the width of the shoulders and the smaller width of the pelvis are clearly greater. Obviously, these indicators reflect only the general trend, they have a large individual variation, depend on the lifestyle of the person. For example, physical training causes a decrease in adipose tissue and an increase in muscle mass.

The dimensions of the individual parts of the body are proportional to growth. This general pattern can be explained by gender differences in the size of the brain.

The mass of the brain in an adult varies in the range of 1100–2000 g. The male and female brains differ in weight: on average, men have a brain weight of 1394 g, and women have a weight of 1245 g [16]. Such differences are due to different overall body size and, accordingly, the size of the skull, the brain mass correlates with the body size and shape of the skull. With age, the brain weight of women decreases slightly less than that of men. The low brain weight of women is not associated with fewer neurons. According to some data, the density of neurons in women in the cerebral cortex is greater than that in men [1].

It is established that the overall size of the brain does not determine the level of intelligence and mental abilities of the individual. The morphological basis of individual differences in mental sphere and behavior can be the relative sizes of individual brain structures involved in the regulation of certain functions. In the literature of the last 10–15 years, data are presented on sex differences in the structural organization of individual subcortical and cortical regions of the brain. Studies of subcortical structures are mainly devoted to the nuclei of the hypothalamus, which regulate sexual development and metabolism in the body. The work of the school of the Swedish scientist D. Svaab [21] showed that in an adult there is sexual dimorphism of individual nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus, for example, the suprachiasic nucleus differs in men and women in size (in men twice) and in shape.

Distinctions in the sizes of the nervous paths connecting the right and left structures of a brain (so-called commissural ways) are revealed. Sexual differences were found in the anterior commissure, which connects the right and left thalamus: the surface of this commissure in women is twice as large as in men. Significant differences were found in the size of the corpus callosum - the structure connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain. In men, the anterior part of the corpus callosum is larger, and in women, the posterior part is larger. The ratio of the volume of the corpus callosum to the brain volume is higher in women compared to men [1].

Gender differences are found in some cortical regions of the brain. The works of the Canadian scientist S. Viteson with coauthors [23] described the differences in the temporal lobe, which are expressed in the types of branching of the sylvian sulcus and in the organization of the auditory cortex. The width of the auditory cortex in women and men is the same, but the number of neurons per unit volume of the brain substance in women is 11% more than in men. Differences in the activity of neurons in certain areas of the cortex and subcortical nuclei were found. In women, activity is higher in the cortical region, which regulates emotional processes (field 47), while in men it prevails in motor structures (field 8 and the caudate nucleus). The overwhelming majority of authors emphasize that the asymmetry of brain structures is more pronounced in men than women.

Thus, in the modern literature there is evidence to support the idea of ​​the presence of sexual dimorphism in the structure of the human brain. The frequency of the messages makes it necessary to recognize the reality of these differences, at least as a valid working hypothesis. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the following points. First, most of the information about gender differences in the structure of the brain was obtained in a study of a small number of men and women. Secondly, many data are not confirmed by repeated studies using other experimental methods. For example, often do not match the data on the difference in brain structures in men and women, obtained during the post-mortem study using the anatomical method and during life using the method of nuclear magnetic resonance.

It should also be noted that studies devoted to sexual dimorphism of the brain often do not take into account individual characteristics, in particular, such as the leading hand and the predominant type of activity. In general, the question of the influence of individual experience on the development of brain structures has not been practically studied, although there is evidence of its significant influence on the structure of individual brain regions. For example, the size of the corpus callosum is associated with the leading arm: in the left-handed and ambidextral corpus callosum is more massive than in the right-handed. The influence of the leading type of activity is demonstrated by the data obtained during the lifetime study of the brain of musicians [1]. It turned out that in right-handed musicians-pianists, the region of the pre-central gyrus, which is the representation of the hand, is more pronounced on the left and on the right than on non-musicians. These results confirm the possibility of restructuring the brain structures in response to specific stimulation.

When interpreting data on sexual dimorphism of the human brain, it is important to take into account that it is impossible to make judgments about the features of the organization of higher mental processes of an individual only on the basis of morphological information about the structure of various brain regions. Accordingly, and on the basis of available information about sexual dimorphism of the brain, it is impossible to draw conclusions about the biological conditionality of the cognitive or behavioral responses of men and women.
The information also shows that the sexual differentiation of the brain does not exclude its bipotentiality. In contrast to the reproductive organs, the differentiation of which is alternative, the brain may contain the possibility of programming behaviors for both male and female types. The realization of these possibilities depends on the conditions of individual development. For example, in the absence of experience of interaction with representatives of their own species, young monkeys and some other animals cannot master the necessary skills of sexual behavior. In humans, the autonomy of reproductive sexual behavior increases the variety of forms of response, and the influence of social factors is more significant here than in animals.

Many manifestations of sexual dimorphism are associated with the hormonal sphere, with the synthesis of male (androgen) and female (estrogen) hormones [18]. Sex hormones have a significant impact on the development of the human body at all stages of its formation [12]. At the embryonic stage, these hormones contribute to the differentiation of tissues and the formation of genital organs. During puberty, increased gonad activity in boys and girls regulates the development of the sexual organs and the formation of secondary sexual characteristics. In adults, sex hormones regulate various processes, but above all those related to the realization of sexual function. Violation of the secretion of gonmas is accompanied by abnormalities not only in the organs of the sexual sphere, but throughout the body.

Among androgens, testosterone is the main hormone. Under the influence of testosterone, not only the sexual function is regulated, but also the metabolism increases, in particular, the synthesis of proteins in the nervous and muscular tissue is enhanced. This explains the greater development of muscles in men and, consequently, greater muscular strength. Female sex hormones (most important are progesterone, estradiol, estrone) cause changes in the body, characteristic of the menstrual cycle, create conditions for implantation of a fertilized egg, ensure the normal development of the fetus, and regulate the metabolism of a number of substances, such as calcium metabolism.

Sex hormones play an important role in the organization of behavior, first of all they are necessary for reproductive behavior. Male sex hormones, especially testosterone, affect sexual behavior. It has been established that the level of testosterone fluctuates; at the same man at different times of the day and on different days it can change several times. However, at high and at low levels of this hormone, sexual activity is about the same, if fluctuations in its concentration do not go beyond the physiological norm [9]. These data show that reproductive behavior is determined not so much by hormonal as by social factors, whose role in humans is large [13].

Sex hormones can affect emotional behavior. Changes in the concentration of estrogen in women are accompanied by changes in the affective state [9]. This condition is called premenstrual syndrome, as the symptoms appear either a few days before the menstruation, or in the first two days of the new cycle. During this period, many women (from 30 to 70% of women) complain of increased anxiety, irritability, internal stress, a sense of unreasonable anxiety, and depression. The main factor contributing to this change in emotional state is considered to be a sharp drop in the content of progesterone. In parallel with the change in the concentration of hormones, some cognitive abilities may also change. For example, spatial tasks are better performed by women with a low level of estrogen, and verbal tasks with a high level. However, in general, no significant changes in the cognitive functions of women in different periods of the cycle have been identified.

Testosterone is associated with aggressive reactions of males of different species, since it has been established that a certain level of aggression is necessary for the manifestation of aggression. The level of aggressive reactions in men is also often associated with androgens. At the beginning of the twentieth century. testosterone was considered to be a hormone of aggression, and in the USA they criminalized criminals accused of sexual violence [9]. However, it soon turned out that a decrease in testosterone does not make the offender less aggressive. It is now shown that in the population of men, the fluctuations of this and other androgens are large and the level of their concentration does not correspond to the frequency of aggressive behavioral acts. The leading role in the frequency of manifestations of aggressive behavior is played not by hormonal, but by socio-psychological factors, and especially by individual experience of aggressive actions [18]. At the same time, experts in the field of behavioral endocrinology note that a sharp change in the level of sex hormones in the blood can contribute to the formation of aggressive behavior. This effect is observed with an accelerated course of puberty: high rates of testosterone secretion in adolescents can be the cause of aggressive asocial behavior. In an adult, many hormones can affect the manifestation of aggression, but none of them is decisive for the manifestation of aggressiveness as personality traits.

Thus, sex hormones affect human behavior. At the same time, any human behavior, even associated with reproductive function, is provided by the endocrine system in close interaction with the nervous system, and neural connections are able to rebuild under the influence of the environment, including social. In other words, the behavior of a person, his individual characteristics are determined by genetic, hormonal and social factors through education and training.

Summarizing the above facts, we note that for a number of somatic signs there are marked differences between men and women. However, these signs do not rigidly determine behavioral reactions, and social factors play a significant role in their influence on behavior.
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