The two essays, “Sex differences in lateralization” and “A global vista: Environment, culture, and the brain” attempts to explain that factors that may affect specific processes in the brain. The first essay describes that gender influences associated with different levels of performance among children may be due to several factors that are working together. Early investigations on such variations simply involved collecting test scores intelligence and motor skills of boys and girls at a specific age range. Additional biomedical investigations have shown that the brains of boys and girls may be functioning differently, resulting in discrepancies in the performance of individuals regardless of similarity of situations. To date, more research reports have accumulated that further strengthen the initial perception that males and females do indeed perform differently. According to Schmithorst (411), employment of specific parts of the brain by children with ages ranging from 5 to 18 years varied with sex. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans showed that boys generally use their right temporal gyrus for thinking, while girls employed their left temporal gyrus for the same activity. Interestingly, analysis of older female children acquired the ability to use both left and right temporal gyri, resulting in a more functional condition for thinking and other motor abilities. The ability of females to connect both gyri thus allows this sex to perform better than males.
Cultural attitudes also influence the brain development of children, by instilling either a positive or negative impact on the progress and maturity of the individual. According to the report of Jaffee (250), which involved twin studies of maltreated children brought up in either social or anti-social environments, children are capable of attaining a near normal live amidst the history of abuse in their earlier lives. Much of this improvement is due to the supportive environment that the children were situated in after the adverse episode of maltreatment. Both boys and girls were able to improve both mentally and physically, thus strengthening the notion that culture also influences the brain development of children.
The second essay deals with cultural differences that may possibly affect human ways of thinking and acting, wherein external factors may influence how an individual behaves. A critical report authored by Melchior (966) provides a significant description of the effect of the socioeconomic conditions on the development of children. Their investigation was very comprehensive, involving the monitoring of around 1,000 children for 32 years, together with the socioeconomic conditions of the children’s family at several stages during the first half of their lives. In addition, the children were also monitored for their intelligence quotients, mental health conditions, drug abuse and cardiovascular disorders. Their lengthy research showed that children that essentially grew up in a low socioeconomic situation were more likely and significantly to succumb to substance abuse and inferior health conditions. Quantification of chances for such outcome resulted in an almost 70% chance of developing a poor adulthood. This work should be looked into by other social and health programs in order to provide them an idea on how culture and the environment affects the development of a children, especially in terms of brain maturity.
It seems that brain development and mental health are not only influenced by the genetics and physiology of the human body, but also by the immediate environment where an individual resides. It should be understood that any damages or traumatic experiences that are inculcated within the early stages of childhood of an individual could still be repaired or replaced in the brains of these individuals, as long as a nurturing environment is provided to the affected child. Research reports show substantial proof that such remedial action is still possible and that social health programs should give time to assess these reports.
Jaffee, S.R., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T.E., Tomas, M.P. and Taylor, A. “Individual, Family, And Neighborhood Factors Distinguish Resilient From Non-resilient Maltreated Children: A Cumulative Stressors Model.” Child Abuse and Neglect 31(2007): 231–253.
Melchior, M., Moffitt, T.E., Milne, B.J., Poulton, R. and Caspi, A. “Why Do Children From Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Families Suffer from Poor Health When They Reach Adulthood? A Life-Course Study.” American Journal of Epidemiology 166(2007): 966–974.
Schmithorst, V.J. and Holland, S.K. “Sex Differences In The Development Of Neuroanatomical Functional Connectivity Underlying Intelligence Found Using Bayesian Connectivity Analysis.” Neuroimage 35(2007): 406–419.