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Inside the male brain: Why do men behave the way they do?

Though the brains of men and women are more alike than different, there are small differences that may explain men's behavior.
/ Source: TODAY

Let's face it: Men aren't always on the same page as women.

Though the brains of both sexes are more alike than different, there are small wiring differences.

In her book, “The Male Brain,” neuropsychiatrist Dr. Louann Brizendine explores those differences to explain why some men act the way they do.

“The male brain reads emotions very quickly and then, though, shuts it down very quickly behind the mask of masculinity,” Brizendine told NBC’S Maria Shriver as part of TODAY’s special series, "Brain Power Today.”

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Members of The ManKind Project, a national support group that helps men learn how to share their feelings, know it all too well.

“I don't think emotion was a word I used growing up,” one man said.

“I never really learned until I joined this group of men that it was safe enough to let that armor go, and in doing that, could somehow become more of a man myself,” added another.

Studies show male brains often are wired to be "emotional fixers" in relationships.

“It's very much men wanting to fix it when he's feeling an uncomfortable emotion. So these things can really cause conflicts in relationships because she feels not heard by him and thinks he's just running over her,” Brizendine said.

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The male brain actually goes through similar life stages as a woman's.

'Doting daddy brain'

Just as pregnancy transforms a woman, a lot comes up for a man as well. Call it the "doting daddy brain.” A man’s testosterone starts to go down and his prolactin level, the parenting hormone, starts to rise. By the time the baby is born, he's already being primed to be a parent. But too often, men get pushed out of quality time with their newborns, Brizendine noted.

“When my daughter was born, I could feel my want to really connect with her. I was feeling angry at my partner because I feel like I wasn't given the space to kind of spend time,” a member of The ManKind Project said.

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The message to new moms? Leave dad alone with baby.

“Studies have actually shown that children who get more attention from their fathers in their first five years of life, actually have better reading scores in school,” Brizendine noted.

As men get older, hormones in their brains fluctuate just like women's. They end up having a little more oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, and lots of older men say they really enjoy cuddling more. But drops in their testosterone levels also leave them vulnerable to mood swings.

The TODAY-commissioned “State of Men 2016” survey found almost half of men, 49 percent, feel more depressed than they admit to the people in their lives. Watch the video above with Maria Shriver to understand more about why men behave the way they do.