North Central College - Naperville, IL

Neuroscientist discusses gender and the brain Feb. 22

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Lise Eliot discusses gender and the brain.
Lise Eliot discusses gender and the brain.

Contact: Nancy Dunker, associate director of public relations, 630-637-5306

Feb. 8, 2011—North Central College welcomes neuroscientist Lise Eliot, author of “Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps and What We Can Do About It,” to speak about gender and the brain.

Eliot will give a free talk at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in North Central’s Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville.

Eliot is associate professor of neuroscience at The Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science/The Chicago Medical School.

Calling on years of exhaustive research and her own work in the field of neuroplasticity, Eliot argues that boy-girl differences are not as hard-wired as many parents today believe. Infant brains are so malleable that small differences at birth become amplified over time as parents, teachers, peers—and the culture at large—unwittingly reinforce gender stereotypes. Children themselves deepen the differences by playing to their modest strengths, rarely straying from their comfort zones.

However, this is just what they need to do, says Eliot. In her book, she offers parents and teachers concrete ways to help. Presenting the latest science from conception to puberty, she zeroes in on the precise differences between boys and girls and challenges stereotypes. Boys are not, in fact, better at math but at certain kinds of spatial reasoning. Girls are not naturally more empathetic than boys; just allowed to express their feelings more.

Eliot also wrote the 2000 book “What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.” Charting the brain’s development from conception through the first five years, her research explores the questions: How much of a baby’s development is genetically ordained—and how much is determined by environment? Is there anything parents can do to make their babies’ brains work better—to help them become smarter, better-adjusted people?

A Chicago native, Eliot received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a doctorate from Columbia University and did post-doctoral research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

This lecture is sponsored by the College’s Cultural Events and is one of many ongoing programs hosted at North Central College to enrich and broaden the academic and cultural outlook for the College and community. For a comprehensive schedule of lectures, art exhibits, musical performances and theatrical productions, visit or call Judith Brodhead, coordinator of cultural events, at 630-637-5276.