Women talk more and like to hear themselves talk
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Women talk three times as much as men, says study
By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 13:39pm on 28th November 2006
It is something one half of the population has long suspected - and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men.
In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day - 13,000 more than the average man.
Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat - and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.
The book - written by a female psychiatrist - says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.
In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.
And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high.
Dr Brizendine, a self-proclaimed feminist, says the differences can be traced back to the womb, where the sex hormone testosterone moulds the developing male brain.
The areas responsible for communication, emotion and memory are all pared back the unborn baby boy.
The result is that boys - and men - chat less than their female counterparts and struggle to express their emotions to the same extent.
"Women have an eight-lane superhighway for processing emotion, while men have a small country road," said Dr Brizendine, who runs a female "mood and hormone" clinic in San Francisco.
There are, however, advantages to being the strong, silent type. Dr Brizendine explains that testosterone also reduces the size of the section of the brain involved in hearing - allowing men to become "deaf" to the most logical of arguments put forward by their wives and girlfriends.
But what the male brain may lack in converstation and emotion, they more than make up with in their ability to think about sex.
Dr Brizendine says the brain's "sex processor" - the areas responsible for sexual thoughts - is twice as big as in men than in women, perhaps explaining why men are stereotyped as having sex on the mind.
Or, to put it another way, men have an international airport for dealing with thoughts about sex, "where women have an airfield nearby that lands small and private planes".
Studies have shown that while a man will think about sex every 52 seconds, the subject tends to cross women's minds just once a day, the University of California psychiatrist says.
Dr Brizendine, whose book is based on her own clinical work and analyses of more than 1,000 scientific studies, added: "There is no unisex brain.
"Girls arrive already wired as girls, and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they're born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality.
"I know it is not politically correct to say this but I've been torn for years between my politics and what science is telling us.
"I believe women actually perceive the world differently from men.
"If women attend to those differences they can make better decisions about how to manage their lives."
Other scientists, however, are sceptical about the effects of testosterone on the brain and say many of the differences between the male and female personality can be explained by social conditioning, with a child's upbringing greatly influencing their character.
Deborah Cameron, an Oxford University linguistics professor with a special interest in language and gender, said the amount we talk is influenced by who we are with and what we are doing.
She added: "If you aggregate a large number of studies you will find there is little difference between the amount men and women talk."
Already available in the US, The Female Brain will be available in the UK from April.