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Sexing the Brain

Lesley Rogers

January, 2001
Paper, 152 pages, 5 illus.
ISBN: 978-0-231-12011-1

How much of sexual diversity is the result of nature versus nurture? Prevailing theories today lean heavily toward nature. Now a leading researcher in neuroscience and animal behavior shows how, in recent history, scientific claims about sex and gender differences have reflected the culture of the time. Although the conviction that genetics can explain everything is now widespread, the author demonstrates the interaction of culture and environment in the formation of behavioral traits and so provides an important corrective to popular notions of reductionism.

Starting with a summary of sex and gender studies, Rogers explains the error of sex biasing, especially the once-assumed inferiority of women. She then addresses several modern studies and investigations, some of which assert that sex and gender differences are the product of genetic inheritance and hormones. Rogers uses laboratory evidence from studies of animals that help illustrate the biologically fluid properties of sex and gender.

Sexing the Brain addresses a variety of topical questions: Are there sex differences in how we think and feel? Is language processed in different parts of the brain in men and women? Do social influences have a stronger influence on sexual behavior than sex hormone levels? Rogers concludes that "our biology does not bind us to remain the same. . . . We have the ability to change, and the future of sex differences belongs to us."

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About the Author

Lesley Rogers is professor of neuroscience and animal behavior in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of New England, Australia. She is the author of five other books, including Minds of Their Own: Thinking and Awareness in Animals and Songs, Roars, and Rituals: Communication in Birds, Mammals and Other Animals (with Gisela Kaplan).

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