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Brain sex differences clue to disease

Thursday February 13th, 2014

Men and women really do have different brains - although the reasons for this and the effects remain uncertain, researchers reported yesterday.

A Cambridge University study found significant differences between men and women in the average sizes of different parts of the brain.

Researchers found that on average men have larger brain sizes than women - by about 13%.

But there were also regions of the brain which, on average, were larger in women than men.

The researchers, reporting in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, say the findings have implications for the study of psychiatric diseases.

The findings come from an analysis of some 126 articles published over a 20-year period reporting on brain sizes.

Researcher Professor Simon Baron-Cohen said: “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.”

Fellow researcher Amber Ruigrok 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.”

Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews February 2014

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Menís Health | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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