Navigation Links
Males and females differ in specific brain structures

Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, a Cambridge University team has conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence, published this week in the prestigious journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

The team, led by doctoral candidate Amber Ruigrok and Professors John Suckling and Simon Baron-Cohen in the Department of Psychiatry, performed a quantitative review of the brain imaging literature testing overall sex differences in total and regional brain volumes. They searched all articles published between 1990 and 2013. A total of 126 articles were included in the study, covering brains from individuals as young as birth to 80 years old.

They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8-13%). On average, males had larger absolute volumes than females in the intracranial space (12%; >14,000 brains), total brain (11%; 2,523 brains), cerebrum (10%; 1,851 brains), grey matter (9%; 7,934 brains), white matter (13%; 7,515 brains), regions filled with cerebrospinal fluid (11.5%; 4,484 brains), and cerebellum (9%; 1,842 brains). Looking more closely, differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.

Specifically, males on average had larger volumes and higher tissue densities in the left amygdala, hippocampus, insular cortex, putamen; higher densities in the right VI lobe of the cerebellum and in the left claustrum; and larger volumes in the bilateral anterior parahippocampal gyri, posterior cingulate gyri, precuneus, temporal poles, and cerebellum, areas in the left posterior and anterior cingulate gyri, and in the right amygdala, hippocampus, and putamen.

By contrast, females on average had higher density in the left frontal pole, and larger volumes in the right frontal pole, inferior and middle frontal gyri, pars triangularis, planum temporale/parietal operculum, anterior cingulate gyrus, insular cortex, and Heschl's gyrus; bilateral thalami and precuneus; the left parahippocampal gyrus, and lateral occipital cortex.

The results highlight an asymmetric effect of sex on the developing brain. Amber Ruigrok, who carried out the study as part of her PhD, said: "For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females. We should no longer ignore sex in neuroscience research, especially when investigating psychiatric conditions that are more prevalent in either males or females."

Professor Suckling added: "The sex differences in the limbic system include areas often implicated in psychiatric conditions with biased sex ratios such as autism, schizophrenia, and depression. This new study may therefore help us understand not just typical sex differences but also sex-linked psychiatric conditions. It is important to note that we only investigated sex differences in brain structure, so we cannot infer anything about how this relates to behaviour or brain function. Integrating across different levels will be an important goal for future research."

Professor Baron-Cohen commented: "Although these very clear sex differences in brain structure may reflect an environmental or social factor, from other studies we know that biological influences are also important, including prenatal sex steroid hormones (such as foetal testosterone) as well as sex chromosome effects. Such influences need to be teased out, one by one."

Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, another member of the team, noted: "The advantage of conducting a meta-analysis is that we can summarise the best knowledge from a vast, heterogeneous literature, with a very large sample size. However, we found a bias in the existing literature towards the use of volunteers over 18 years old, probably because this is the easiest age group to recruit and to brain scan. We need more research exploring brain development over the entire lifespan, especially in the early, formative years".


Contact: Communications Office
University of Cambridge

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Half of black males, 40 percent of white males arrested by age 23
2. Genetic flaw in males triggers onset of liver cancer, diabetes
3. At Least One in Ten People are Divorced Among All U.S. Females and Males on
4. University of East Anglia research shows how females choose the right sperm
5. Study Finds Overweight Young Males Have a Greater Risk of Not Surviving Until Age 55, Making Weight Loss Supplements Like Prescopodene Helpful With Increasing Longevity
6. Do-It-Yourself Projects May Boost White-Collar Males Self-Image
7. Judge: Make Morning-After Pill Available to All Females
8. Males superior spatial ability likely is not an evolutionary adaptation
9. Researchers Detect an Anti-Autism Advantage in Females
10. New OHSU research helps explain early-onset puberty in females
11. Males Struck by Cars Die More Often Than Females: Study
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Males and females differ in specific brain structures
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... The men and women on this ... in the country. They have overseen financial turnarounds, shown commitment to their community ... industry as a whole through their advocacy and professional efforts. , Becker's Hospital ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Indosoft Inc., developer ... incorporation of Asterisk 11 LTS (Long Term Support) into its Q-Suite 5.10 product ... Q-Suite 5.10 up-to-date with a version of Asterisk that will receive not only ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... a real-time eReferral system for diagnostic imaging in the Waterloo region. Using the ... and Nuclear Medicine tests directly from their electronic medical record (EMR) without the ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Jobs in hospital medical laboratories and ... offered by healthcare staffing agency Aureus Medical Group . These fields, ... 2015 among those searching for healthcare jobs through the company’s website, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... CA (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... a new set of retro-fused, self-animating trailer titles with ProTrailer: Vintage. This newly ... options. These classically-influenced trailer titles work with any font, giving users limitless opportunities ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the "Global ... to their offering. --> ... "Global Brain Monitoring Devices Market 2015-2019" ... Research and Markets ( ) ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Nov. 25, 2015  Linden Care, LLC, a retail ... outcomes for patients suffering from chronic pain, said today ... Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Express Scripts from unilaterally ... --> --> The ... its legal options. --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s largest ... dental, medical and animal health practitioners, will unveil at ... Henry Schein ConnectDental® Pavilion , which brings together for ... solutions designed to help any practice or laboratory enter ... for a schedule of experts appearing at the Pavilion. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: