After four years of writing a dating column, I still do not understand men. Nor, would most of the men I know claim to ever understand women. Women speak in long-winded paragraphs; men in concise sentences or just single words. Women buy colour co-ordinated outfits; men buy clothes. Women put on lipstick, drive and talk on the phone (although we know we shouldn’t) on a morning commute; men can’t seem to remember to put the toilet seat down.

While the self-help aisles of Chapters and Indigo are brimming with ways for both sexes to just get along, science seems to understand that even though men and women have 22 out of 23 chromosomes in common, that differing one can be the source of many of our frustrations with the opposite sex.

Dr. Walt Larimore, family physician and co-author of the recently released His Brain, Her Brain, How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage, says there are more than 100 biological differences between the male and female brain.

Among those differences, Larimore says is the way men and women process emotions. “The hippocampus, which is essentially the emotional quarter back of the body, is much bigger in women and closer to her verbal centre. Women have to talk things out,” he says. “Talking helps her process her emotions.”

In men, however, the hippocampus is much smaller. “Therefore, men tend to react by getting physical or getting very quiet,” says Larimore.

The way we touch, hear and see is also processed very differently in the male and female brains.

Larimore explains that women have 30 per cent more cones in their eyes (which accounts for colour sensitivity), allowing them to see eight to 10 colours in a rainbow, whereas men would only see seven.

Women also have more “processing fibres” in their brain, which allows them to pay attention to as many as seven separate sensory inputs at the same time, whereas men can usually only concentrate on one. Larimore, who co-wrote the book with his wife Barb, says understanding these bits of information has really helped his own marriage.

“Before, if we were listening to a CD and Barb wanted to talk to me about something, I would turn off the music,” says Larimore, adding this would offend his wife, who thought her husband didn’t think she was able to talk and listen at the same time.

“Now she understands that I’m turning off the music because I can’t listen to both.”

Although we may be dealing with grey matters, Larimore says this has nothing to do with brain capacity. Instead, it may just shed some light on the real differences between the sexes.

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