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Whistler Reads: THE FEMALE BRAIN

abstract:What makes us women? Whistler Reads fifteenth reading selection November 1st at the Durlacher Hof was a resounding success as members new and old (with tourist visitors attending from Mexico and Switzerland) had a one-hour conversation with the author, Dr. Louann M. Brizendine, via speaker phone. Available as podcast shortly As a neurobiology undergrad at Berkeley in the '70s, Louann asked the question, "Why is there no research study results of female animal behavior and brain physiology?" Since that time, researchers like Louann have, along with advances in non-invasive MRI and PET scanners, learned a wealth of information encapsulated in Dr. Brizendine's book, The Female Brain. Written in an easy to read, "Ahhah!" format that weaves what Publisher's Weekly calls "a trove of information and stunning facts" and that Huffington exclaims is "bloody brilliant ... answers questions that have plagued me for years, as well as ones I hadn't even formulated yet."


November 02, 2007

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  • About The Book

    We all strive to understand how our innate biology affects our reality. "It helps to know what your brain is doing during the crazy times of life so we can harness our female brainpower and plan a better future," says Louann.

    I started reading The Female Brain and finished it in two sittings. It simply astounded me to realize that all of the major milestones of my life were controlled by the ebb and flow of neurotransmitters and hormones titrated with precision by centers in my brain and the surrounding stimuli that dictate my mood, emotions, and behavior.

    Dr. Brizendine combines scientific fact with her vast clinical experience and then gives real-life examples of females at all the stages -- some of the quotes could have come straight out of your own mouth (or your boyfriend's or husband's mouth, for that matter).

    Here are a few things to consider:

    1. The human embryonic brain is female to begin with. Male brains don't evolve from this until 8 weeks when testosterone surges bathe the brain from the developing testes of the male embryo. This will cause development of specific changes toward the male vs. a female brain anatomy.
    At 24 months a female brain is getting as much estrogen as a full-grown woman.
    2. Women's brains have larger emotion centers (the hippocampus) and communication centers, while men's brains have larger fear and aggression centers (the amygdala).
    This is why women are so great at reading faces and tones of voice for emotion and have the ability to diffuse conflict. Men's brains have 2 1/2 times larger centers devoted to sexual drive -- they think of sex (apparently) about 20 times a day while women think about sex maybe 1-2 times a day (crikey -- it's science, is there room to argue?)
    3. Men apparently have a "monogamy gene." They can have the long-monogamy version or a short non-monogamy gene version. Hmmmm, size does matter...
    4. In the teen years, girls' brains are driving them to socialization behavior -- talking on the phone, Facebook, sleep-overs? While testosterone is driving boys to isolationism and sexual preoccupation -- suspiciously long showers?
    5. At parenthood, a woman's brain is bathed in oxytocin, driving her to nurturing behavior; while the man's brain is bombarded with vasopressin, driving him to suppress aggression and to love and protect.
    6. Approaching menopause, women's brains have decreasing amounts of estrogen and almost no oxytocin -- their urges to nurture, maintain the nest, pamper their mates goes out the window -- no wonder a woman starts pushing her kids out of the house, and off to university, out to work, and has an unexplainable urge to tell her husband to make his own dinner, wash-up, and step aside while she focuses on HERSELF for a change!

    About the Author

    LOUANN BRIZENDINE, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, is the founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic. She was previously on faculty at the Harvard Medical School and is a graduate of the Yale University School of Medicine and the University of California, Berkeley, in neurobiology. She has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, ABC’s 20/20, NBC’s Today Show, CNN’s American Morning, National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered, and has been featured in Newsweek, O Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Times Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times, to name a few. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and son.

    Professional Resource Links

    Many of the people present asked, "Where can I go to determine my female neurochemical and life-long health concerns?"
  • The Women's and Teen Girl's Mood and Hormone Clinic, San Francisco, CA
  • The West Coast Women's Clinic, Vancouver, BC
  • Sophie Grigoriadis, MD, Clinical Studies Mood Disorder Clinic, Toronto General Hospital, Ont
  • About the Venue

    The Durlacher Hof is one of Whistler's celebrated classic B&Bs. Owners Erika and Peter Durlacher have built a charming Austrian-style retreat that brings Tyrolean hospitality to North America. It was a special treat for our WR group discussion because of the hosts unique brand of old world hospitality. WR members coming from Vancouver stayed at the Inn and enjoyed the authentic decor and thoughtful details, such as cozy euro wood-burning heaters, eider-down bedding, hand-carved furniture and your own pair of Austrian slippers waiting for you at the door. There are big name-brand hotels all over the world - but for a unique experience visitors who seek out The Durlacher will leave, just a little transformed.

    About Whistler Reads

    This unique village book group serves not only regular group members from the resort town of Whistler and adjacent communities of Pemberton, Squamish, West Vancouver all the way down to Vancouver, it is an ideal drop-in opportunity for visitors to the ski resort who wish to mingle with locals, participate in our discussions, meet our authors and read what Whistler is reading. We are thrilled to make and keep connections with people from around the globe. The Whistler Reads mantra is "Whether you live, work or play in Whistler - read what Whistler Reads" Register with us to get on the email list and receive announcements about latest book and meeting location.
    To Join click REGISTER on the home page
    Type in "Whistler Reads" in the group name
    Complete all your pertinent information. It's that easy! Join Today.

    Purchase a WR toque as a souvenir for you and your book group back home.



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