Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have published findings in The Journal of Neuroscience that indicate that Chatty Kathy has a biological predisposition to, er, chat more than her male counterpart. The researchers have found that women have higher levels of a protein called FOXP2 in their brains. Previous studies show that FOXP2 is linked to language.
In order to test this protein, the team, led by J. Michael Bowers and Margaret McCarthy, looked at young rat pups. These animals emit cries in the ultrasonic range when separated from their mothers. The team recorded the cries over five minutes in groups of 4-day-old male and female rats that had been separated from their mothers. They found that male pups had up to twice as much of the protein FOXP2 in regions of the brain known to be involved in vocalization--perhaps an unsurprising finding since researchers noted that males made twice as many cries as females.
But, obviuously, rats aren't people, so the researchers at Maryland's School of Medicine had to take that test a step further.
They conducted a small study on human children aged four to five years who had died in accidents less than 24 hours previously. They then analyzed the amount of FOXP2 protein in the brains of these children. In the end, the researchers found 30 percent more FOXP2 protein in the brains of the girls. [Science World Report]