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Ever Wonder Why Your Man Reads Faces So Poorly?

Some men have Social Intelligence nailed. They can recognize people they've met and read and adapt their actions to the most fleeting facial expression. But many do an awful job of this.

Ladies, before you roll your eyeballs (a serious no-no for a woman who loves her man) when your husband misses cues that are obvious to you, consider this new research into facial recognition.

Now that researchers can measure facial recognition by watching for increased blood oxygen in the right fusiform face area (FFA) in the brain, as well as by testing them, they are learning a lot about us. Women in general show more activity in the FFA when looking at faces than men do. Women in general show more activity here in the middle of their menstrual cycles, when their estrogen levels peak and they can get pregnant, than while menstruating. And women taking birth control pills (which contain estrogen and progestin) show more activity than other women at both points in their cycle.

Just to rule out a possible non-brain explanation, they checked the eye movement of women on birth control pills and not. They found no difference. So it is pretty likely that estrogen enhances the brain's ability to recognize a face.

I hope the next study tells us whether we retain most of this advantage after menopause because we learn from the experience it gives us. But in the meantime, don't expect your husband to be as good at this as you are. You have a female advantage, probably there to help you choose who gets access to your monthly eggs.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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