I have always been told that I talk a lot by every person in my dating history. Though I typically date outgoing people, I tend to be the one who has no qualms with speaking to strangers at bars, chatting on the phone for hours and being super friendly to literal cats on the street. My exes tend to make fun of me for this, saying that I talk too much, but I have always wondered how much of that is me, or whether women talk more than men on the whole. Apparently, I am not alone in my talkative nature, according to science.
A new study shows that not only do women talk more, we do it because of a protein in our brains that is found more than in females than males. The protein, known as Foxp2 or the “language protein”, was shown to cause more vocal behavior in an experiment using rats:
The first part of the study was conducted on mouse pups. Researchers assessed the level of this protein in the brains of the pups and tested the amount of noise they made when they were separated from their parents. Male mouse pups have higher levels of the protein Foxp2 in the brain and researchers found that these pups made more noises (distress calls) than female pups.
Then, researchers altered the amount of Foxp2 present in the brains of the mice by increasing levels of the protein in females and decreasing it in males. Study results showed that the difference in the level of this protein changed the behavior of the pups; with males making less noise and females making more. The changed behavior of the pups led to mothers changing their behavior as well. When females began making more distress calls, mothers began preferring them over male pups…
The last part of the study involved a small group of children. Researchers assessed the levels of Foxp2 protein in both boys and girls. And, unlike mice, human females were found to have 30 percent more Foxp2 protein in the brain areas associated with language than males.
Obviously, not all women are the same, because that would be weird. In fact, many of my male friends are super talkative — much more than most of my female friends, actually. But it is always interesting to see when stereotypes have some sort of scientific basis, and according to Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, it’s a unique discovery in the communication field.
“This study is one of the first to report a sex difference in the expression of a language-associated protein in humans or animals. The findings raise the possibility that sex differences in brain and behavior are more pervasive and established earlier than previously appreciated.”
So next time somebody gets sassy at you for being too talkative…