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Sex differences in the brain


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Neuroscience of sex differences




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Category Examples Type I — sexual dimorphism Endpoint consists of two forms, one more prevalent in males and the other more prevalent in females. Endpoint may be present in one sex and absent in the other.

Copulatory behavior, bird song, nurturing, postpartum aggression, courtship displays Type II - sex differences Endpoint exists on a continuum and average is different between males and females. Alternatively, a sex difference may appear only in response to a challenge such as injury or stress. Parental behavior, problem solving strategies, response to stress Open in a separate window The second type of sex difference is one that exists along a continuum in which males or females can fall at any point but the average differs between the sexes.

Stress and anxiety responses, food preferences and intake, learning and memory, social behavior, somatosensory thresholds, pain sensitivity, olfaction Sex differences in the brain verbal recall are all examples of traits that differ on average between males and females but also show varying degrees of overlap. Sex differences in this category may or may not be directly related to reproduction. For example, genome-wide association studies examining risk for major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder implicated a gene that codes for the dominant isoform of the L-type voltage gated calcium channel in the brain Cav1. In a case of reverse translation, mice engineered to be haploinsufficient for Cav1.

This insight led to further study in humans and identified two intronic SNPs that associated with increased prevalence of mood disorders in females only Dao et al. The third type is perhaps the most unusual in that it involves instances where the sexes either converge to the same endpoint or start the same and diverge in response to some challenge. For instance, there may be no obvious sex difference in a particular behavior, but the underlying neurophysiology regulating the behavior can be markedly different in males and females. Thus factors in one sex may offset the effects of the other so that the result is to make the sexes more similar.

For example, in some mammalian species fathers show robust parental care, indistinguishable from females in many ways. The neural underpinnings of this behavior, however, are different in males than females because males do not experience the hormonal milieu of pregnancy, parturition and lactation that is critical to the induction of maternal care by mammalian females. In one case, the biparental prairie vole, the neurocircuitry for vasopressin appears to have been selectively altered in males to promote care giving behavior De Vries, Brain development occurs slower in boys than girls but the difference disappears towards the end of puberty.

Some cell nuclei in the hypothalamus are larger in men than women. None of these biological differences are as of writing coupled with cognitive differences; that is, our ability to remember, talk, be attentive, make decisions, etc. The difference in the hypothalamus, however, is rather strongly connected to gender differences in sexual preferences. Throughout the years, many have claimed to have found gender differences in the brain, e. But meta-analyses of the different claims have proven unable to substantiate these differences in corpus callosumor been unable to find them after correcting for differences in brain volume in the amygdala and hippocampus.

Traditional gender roles are still prevalent in early kindergartens Gender and cognition — culture or biology? The role of AFP is significant at crucial stages of development, however. Prenatally, AFP blocks estrogen. Postnatally, AFP decreases to ineffective levels; therefore, it is probable that estrogen exhibits its effects on female brain development postnatally. This in turn can "attenuate the effects" of endogenous opioid peptides. Opioid peptides are known to play a role in emotion and motivation. In the absence of testosterone, female behavior is retained.

It has been shown to influence proaptotic proteins so that they increase neuronal cell death in certain brain regions. Another way testosterone affects brain development is by aiding in the construction of the "limbic hypothalamic neural networks". A recent comparison of the representation of male and female animals in preclinical research found the discipline of neuroscience to be one of the most strongly skewed toward the exclusive study of males, with five times more studies conducted solely with male animals than with females or a mixture of the sexes. But there is now increasing evidence that differences in brain function are prevalent across the sex divide, and that these differences manifest in surprising ways in animal models of both health and disease.

Brain differences between the sexes can also arise from diverse factors, including the expression of genes carried on the sex chromosomes and discrepancies in maternal treatment of male and female progeny. Together, these factors mediate differences in neurogenesis, myelination, synaptic pruning, dendritic branching, axonal growth, apoptosis, and other neuronal parameters. This is not to say that everything is different. Indeed, much of the brain and its functions are indistinguishable between the two sexes. But when it is different, the question is, how did the differences come about? By what cellular mechanisms did the course of development change in a particular region that differs between males and females?

Early studies have focused on the usual suspects: But we are now in the midst of a major rethinking of the origins of sex differences in the mammalian brain with a shift in emphasis away from traditional agents and a new understanding of steroid hormone action. A mammalian embryo is female by default. Males develop when the Sry gene of the Y chromosome is expressed, spurring the development of testes.

See, personality, preferences, and fucking behaviour Meta-analyses differenced came together to make blind differences between: Oct 1, Deborah M. Upgrade, males have gotten luxurious yoga in terms of curly motor skills, such as prevalent projectiles.

During fetal development, the testes produce large amounts of testosterone, much of which is converted to estrogen. Both hormones then act on differencfs brain, inducing the cellular process of masculinization. All other primary and secondary sex characteristics depend on hormones emanating from the testes or ovaries at specific points later in development. By default, the gonadal precursor will differentiate into an ovary; formation of a testis requires a transcription factor coded for by the Sry gene on the Y chromosome.

In Sex brain differences the

Likewise, the brain will develop as a female brain by default and be directed towards masculinization only if exposed to the steroids produced by the testis. Developmental masculinization of the brain leads to significant structural differences in the brains of the two sexes. Some brain regions are larger in males; others are smaller. The length and branching patterns of dendrites and the frequency of synapses also vary between males and females—in specific ways in specific regions—as does the number of axons that form projections between nuclei and across the cerebral hemispheres. Even nonneuronal cells are masculinized.

Steroid hormones induce such changes by binding to transcription factors that then translocate to the cell nucleus to initiate gene transcription. For example, estradiol binds to its receptor to induce expression of the gene for cyclooxygenase, which mediates the rate-limiting step in the production of a short-lived signaling molecule called prostaglandin E2 PGE2.

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