The human brain is in many ways still a mystery to scientists. Recent studies have revealed interesting new insights into brain development, including what, if any, gender differences exist between the male and female brain.
Research paper topics on this subject offer a wide range of ideas.
Are there gender differences in the brain?
One area that researchers have spent considerable effort exploring is whether or not the male and female brains are different. The thinking was that if the brain had gender differences linked to structure, it would provide an explanation for variations in behavior that men and women exhibit. According to a post by Nathaniel Scharping, “Human Brains Are Neither ‘Male’ Nor ‘Female’” on December 1, 2015, for Discovermagazine.com, the answer is no.
Scharping explained that a recent Tel Aviv University study found that brains exhibit a combination of characteristics deemed male and female. “When researchers looked at the 10 most dimorphic regions of the brain they had identified, they found that there was substantial variation between subjects no matter their gender, and that only 6 percent of the brains they analyzed were either “all-male” or “all-female.” A research paper could take a more philosophical approach appropriate for a women’s studies class and question whether trying to determine gender differences is a sexist endeavor.
How does stress impact brain development?
What researchers do know is that stress can impact human brain development. Interestingly enough, a new study out of Stanford University indicates that there may be gender differences in how the female and male brain handles trauma. The BBC reported on November 12, 2016, “Stress ‘changes brains of boys and girls differently’” that “Their findings suggest that boys and girls could display contrasting symptoms after a particularly distressing or frightening event, and should be treated differently as a result.”
The study found that the part of the brain linked to empathy was smaller in girls that had experienced a significant traumatic event in their lives, possibly resulting in an increased risk of PTSD in girls versus boys. Other consequences could be faster aging of this part of the brain that handles empathy, the insula, and an early onset of puberty for traumatized girls. A research paper could discuss how boys and girls respond to stress or trauma differently and ideal treatments to address these gender differences, or take a historical tact and explore debunked ways that science used to separate the sexes.
More on the human brain
Another serious area of research is how the constant stress resulting from poverty can impact the human brain. Erika Hayasaki wrote “How Poverty Changes the Brain; New Research Reveals the Connection between Stress, Poverty and Brain Development in Children” for the September 2, 2016, edition of Newsweek about two recent studies on this topic and their findings.
One study published in JAMA Pediatrics (2015) found that “Children from the poorest backgrounds showed greater diminishment of gray matter and scored lower on standardized tests.” The second study was published in Nature Neuroscience in 2015 and Hayasaki wrote it “found that children with parents who had lower incomes had reduced brain surface areas in comparison to children from families bringing home $150,000 or more a year.” Research paper topics to delve into include what social programs could mitigate or halt how class differences impact the human brain and its development.
Are there other areas of research into brain development that you think should be studied? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.