A large-scale study on the effects of sex on gray matter asymmetry

Christian Núñez, Constantina Theofanopoulou, Carl Senior, Maria Rosa Cambra, Judith Usall, Christian Stephan-Otto, Gildas Brébion

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Research on sex-related brain asymmetries has not yielded consistent results. Despite its importance to further understanding of normal brain development and mental disorders, the field remains relatively unexplored. Here we employ a recently developed asymmetry measure, based on the Dice coefficient, to detect sex-related gray matter asymmetries in a sample of 457 healthy participants (266 men and 191 women) obtained from 5 independent databases. Results show that women’s brains are more globally symmetric than men’s (p < 0.001). Although the new measure accounts for asymmetries distributed all over the brain, several specific structures were identified as systematically more symmetric in women, such as the thalamus and the cerebellum, among other structures, some of which are typically involved in language production. These sex-related asymmetry differences may be defined at the neurodevelopmental stage and could be associated with functional and cognitive sex differences, as well as with proneness to develop a mental disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183–193
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-017-1481-4


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