I was really interested in Wendy Sternberg's monday night supplementary session material. The whole idea that all of this research was only being done with male rats for so many years is incredible to me. I believe there are many obvious differences in the sexes that should be accounted for in a model for pain inhibition. Thinking about it from an evolutionary perspective brings up pleistocene era hunter-gatherer society concepts. This historical model (if I recall correctly), generally differentiates between sexes by the respective roles that each played in the family. The man generally did the hunting for the family, while the women would tend the home dwelling, take care of the kids, and take care of general gathering duties. Now, one has to admit that the amount of stress related to these two roles is enormously divergent. The stress of survival needs seems like it would have a different response than stress of general housekeeping needs, so perhaps stress responses evolved differently in men than they did in women for this reason. One point that was brought up was that of stress of childbirth. I thought this was interesting in that it did bring the scale back in the other direction-women really do experience a more debilitating stressor regularly in childbirth, and thus could develop as strong a response to stress as that of a man who is stressed by the rigors of hunting vicious man-eating animals everyday. The point is, the stress response has evolved differently for different groups according to their experiences, and so it makes sense that the hormone mechanisms underlying the stress response would also evolve differently. Clearly, any models that may involve mechanisms that could be differentiated by sex must be tested for sex differences, or else their validity remains questionable.

Glad you enjoyed it. So did I. And there is indeed a need, in science and elsewhere, to take more seriously the reality that brains ARE all different from one another ... so that conclusions drawn from any restricted sample may or may not be applicable to other individuals. PG