Even oft-repeated gender stereotypes harbor some truth: Angry men are more likely to yell or punch a wall, whereas angry women sit silently stewing. Now, a new study is tracing these distinctions in how men and women process emotion to an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain. Not only does the structure, the amygdala, function differently by gender, but its activity in men is also coupled with very different brain regions than it is in women.
The amygdala straddles both sides of the brain and helps control how emotions such as fear are processed and remembered. Several studies have found gender differences when the amygdala is stimulated–by having volunteers recall scary movies, for example. In men, the right side of the amygdala, known simply as the right amygdala, appears more likely to become active, whereas in women it’s the left.