Q: Judaism, Protestantism, and Catholicism are all represented in my family system. Although we have differing perspectives, we all sense there is a Higher Power and wonder about how “He” listens to a female voice, given recent PET Scan studies on how male and female humans “listen” to each other.

A. That’s an interesting question. Both temporal lobes in the human brain seem able to decode speech sounds. There also seems to be a difference in advantage or in lateralization of function: the left hemisphere has an 85% advantage for decoding speech sounds in Wernicke’s Area (while 15% may be devoted to decoding voice tonality and inflection). The right hemisphere has the opposite (an 85% advantage for decoding non-speech sounds and 15% devoted to decoding speech sounds. That both temporal lobes appear able to decode speech sounds as well as non-speech sounds, is important. If an individual loses hearing in one ear the other ear may be able to decode both speech and nonspeech sounds (although one type will likely require more energy and attention to do so).

In terms of gender differences, unimpaired, both male and female brains are able, with attention and intention, to hear and decode each other's speech sounds. However, PET Scan studies have shown that the female brain tends to use both hemispheres when decoding human voices. The male brain, on the other hand, tends to use the left hemisphere when decoding male voices and the right hemisphere when decoding female voices. It appears, therefore, that it takes more energy for males to decode female voices (although they CAN do that), and often may not really be decoding content by the time the female finally gets to the bottom line (although the male may have enjoyed "listening" to the sound of her voice).

Theoretically, a deity should be able to listen to and hear any application from a human brain. Perhaps when you are thinking of a Higher Power as "father," however, you might want to “use the bottom line” approach as you would with a male brain. On the other hand, when you perceive a Higher Power as "mother," you might want to chatter on and tell the whole story from the beginning as you would with a female brain.