Usually, boys tend to be more callous and less emotional than girls, and there’s actually a standard among them which requires them to be like that. Many people think such a behavior is fed by stereotypes, but it turns out the brain of the extremely tough ones has a completely different structure.
Callous young boys have a different brain structure
Boys might be more callous, but some of them exhibit traits which are borderline antisocial. These are described as callous-unemotional, and are characterized by the absence of empathy, a tendency to ignore others’ feelings, and the incapacity to feel guilt. They are quite typical in people who end up developing psychiatric or behavioral disorders.
However, such traits are more likely among males. Researchers looked at the brain of young boys who appeared more callous than others, and discovered they had more gray matter in the anterior insula. This area is responsible with emotion processing and empathy. Too much matter prevents it from functioning properly.
This dissimilarity is visible only in boys, not in girls
What was interesting was the fact that this applied only to boys. A higher gray matter volume explained about 19 percent of the cases of male callous-unemotional traits. However, the difference wasn’t visible in girls with similar personality.
To spot the differences, researchers performed MRI brain scans on 189 teenagers undergoing normal development. This way, they could take a look directly at their brain structure, and could detect any abnormality present in those with callous traits. This is how they observed the difference is visible only in boys.
As mentioned above, too much gray matter in the anterior insula makes it slightly malfunctional. This happens mostly because the maturation of this area of the brain gets delayed by the high concentration of matter, preventing the boys from feeling empathy or interpreting feelings like anyone else.