Friday, 9 September 2011

Sex Differences In The Brain

Recently I got into a debate with someone in cyberspace about the biological differences between the brains of men & women, during which I made what I thought was a pretty  safe statement by saying studies show there are innate differences in place in the structure of male & female brains even while still in the womb. I was asked, with some annoyance, what studies? 

So, in response, I put together a list of studies & scientific papers relating to differences most specifically between the brain structure & function of males & females, but also a few that are related to the wider question of innate sex differences. There were obviously many more I could have included but kept with the ones that most clearly referred to this specific issue & whose titles made plain their position.

I reproduce it here as it may be found useful to others in similar situations.


Arnold, A. P. (2004). "Sex chromosomes and brain gender." Nat Rev Neurosci 5 (9): 701-8.
Arnold, A. P., J. Xu, et al. (2004). "Minireview: Sex chromosomes and brain sexual differentiation." Endocrinology 145 (3): 1057-62.
Bachevalier, J., C. Hagger, et al. (1989). "Gender differences in visual habit formation in 3-month-old rhesus monkeys." Dev Psychobiol 22 (6): 585-99.
Baron-Cohen, S., R. C. Knickmeyer, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in the brain: Implications for explaining autism." Science 310 (5749): 819-23.
Bayliss, A. P., G. di Pellegrino, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in eye gaze and symbolic cueing of attention." Q J Exp Psychol A 58 (4): 631-50.
Berkley, K. (2002). "Pain: Sex/Gender differences." In Hormones, Brain and Behavior, ed. D. W. Pfaff, vol. 5, 409-42. San Diego: Academic Press.
Brody, L. R. (1985). "Gender differences in emotional development: A review of theories and research." J Pers 53:102-49.
Buss, D. M. (1995). "Psychological sex differences. Origins through sexual selection." Am Psychol 50 (3): 164-68; discussion 169-71.
Canli, T., J. E. Desmond, et al. (2002). "Sex differences in the neural basis of emotional memories." Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99 (16): 10789-94.
Carter, C. S. (1992). "Oxytocin and sexual behavior." Neurosci Biobehav Rev 16 (2): 131-44.
Collaer, M. L., and M. Hines (1995). "Human behavioral sex differences: A role for gonadal hormones during early development?" Psychol Bull 118 (1): 55-107.
Derbyshire, S. W., T. E. Nichols, et al. (2002). "Gender differences in patterns of cerebral activation during equal experience of painful laser stimulation." J Pain 3 (5): 401-11.
DeVries, G. J. (1999). "Brain sexual dimorphism and sex differences in parental and other social behaviors." In C. S. Carter, I. I. Lederhendler, and B. Kirkpatrick,
eds., The Integrative Neurobiology of Affiliation, 155-68. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Dluzen, D. E. (2005). "Estrogen, testosterone, and gender differences." Endocrine 27 (3): 259-68.
Fernandez-Guasti, A., F. P. Kruijver, et al. (2000). "Sex differences in the distribution of androgen receptors in the human hypothalamus." J Comp Neurol 425 (3): 422-35.
Giedd, J. N., F. X. Castellanos, et al. (1997). "Sexual dimorphism of the developing human brain." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 21 (8):1185-201.
Gizewski, E. R., E. Krause, et al. (2006). "Gender-specific cerebral activation during cognitive tasks using functional MRI: Comparison of women in midluteal phase and men." Neuroradiology 48 (1): 14-20.
Goldstein, J. M., M. Jerram, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in prefrontal cortical brain activity during FMRI of auditory verbal working memory." Neuropsychology 19 (4): 509-19.
Goldstein, J. M., L. J. Seidman, et al. (2001). "Normal sexual dimorphism of the adult human brain assessed by in vivo magnetic resonance imaging." Cereb Cortex 11 (6): 490-97.
Gur, R. C., F. Gunning-Dixon, et al. (2002). "Sex differences in temporo-limbic and frontal brain volumes of healthy adults." Cereb Cortex 12 (9): 998-1003.
Gur, R. C., F. M. Gunning-Dixon, et al. (2002). "Brain region and sex differences in age association with brain volume: A quantitative MRI study of healthy young adults." Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 10 (1): 72-80.
Gur, R. C., L. H. Mozley, et al. (1995). "Sex differences in regional cerebral glucose metabolism during a resting state." Science 267 (5197): 528-31.
Halari, R., M. Hines, et al. (2005). "Sex differences and individual differences in cognitive performance and their relationship to endogenous gonadal hormones and gonadotropins." Behav Neurosci 119 (1): 104-17.
Halari, R., and V. Kumari (2005). "Comparable cortical activation with inferior performance in women during a novel cognitive inhibition task." Behav Brain Res 158 (1): 167-73.
Halari, R., T. Sharma, et al. (2006). "Comparable fMRI activity with differential behavioural performance on mental rotation and overt verbal fluency tasks in healthy men and women." Exp Brain Res 169 (1): 1-14.
Hines, M. (2002). "Sexual differentiation of human brain and behavior." In Hormones, Brain and Behavior, ed. D. W. Pfaff, vol. 4, 425-62. San Diego: Academic Press.
Hines, M., S. F. Ahmed, et al. (2003). "Psychological outcomes and genderrelated development in complete androgen insensitivity syndrome." Arch Sex Behav 32 (2): 93-101.
Hines, M., C. Brook, et al. (2004). "Androgen and psychosexual development: Core gender identity, sexual orientation and recalled childhood gender role behavior in women and men with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)." J Sex Res 41 (1): 75-81.
Hines, M., and F. R. Kaufman (1994). "Androgen and the development of human sex-typical behavior: Rough-and-tumble play and sex of preferred playmates in children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)." Child Dev 65 (4): 1042-53.
Hittelman, J. H. (1979). "Sex differences in neonatal eye contact time." Merrill-Palmer Q 25:171-84.
Jausovec, N., and K. Jausovec (2005). "Sex differences in brain activity related to general and emotional intelligence." Brain Cogn 59 (3): 277-86.
Jordan, K., T. Wustenberg, et al. (2002). "Women and men exhibit different cortical activation patterns during mental rotation tasks." Neuropsychologia 40 (13): 2397-408.
Knaus, T. A., A. M. Bollich, et al. (2004). "Sex-linked differences in the anatomy of the perisylvian language cortex: A volumetric MRI study of gray matter volumes." Neuropsychology 18 (4): 738-47.
Kruijver, F. P., A. Fernandez-Guasti, et al. (2001). "Sex differences in androgen receptors of the human mamillary bodies are related to endocrine status rather than to sexual orientation or transsexuality." J Clin Endocrinol Metab 86 (2): 818-27.
Lee, T. M., H. L. Liu, et al. (2002). "Gender differences in neural correlates of recognition of happy and sad faces in humans assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging." Neurosci Lett 333 (1): 131-36.
Lee, T. M., H. L. Liu, et al. (2005). "Neural activities associated with emotion recognition observed in men and women." Mol Psychiatry 10 (5): 450-55.
Li, C. S., T. R. Kosten, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in brain activation during stress imagery in abstinent cocaine users: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study." Biol Psychiatry 57 (5): 487-94.
Li, H., S. Pin, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in cell death." Ann Neurol 58 (2): 317-21.
Li, Z. J., H. Matsuda, et al. (2004). "Gender difference in brain perfusion 99mTc- ECD SPECT in aged healthy volunteers after correction for partial volume effects." Nucl Med Commun 25 (10): 999-1005.
McClure, E. B. (2000). "A meta-analytic review of sex differences in facial expression processing and their development in infants, children, and adolescents." Psychol Bull 126 (3): 424-53.
McClure, E. B., C. S. Monk, et al. (2004). "A developmental examination of gender differences in brain engagement during evaluation of threat." Biol Psychiatry 55 (11): 1047-55.
Maccoby, E. E., and C. N. Jacklin (1973). "Stress, activity, and proximity seeking: Sex differences in the year-old child." Child Dev 44 (1): 34-42.
Madden, T. E., L. F. Barrett, et al. (2000). "Sex differences in anxiety and depression: Empirical evidence and methodological questions." In Gender and Emotion: Social Psychological Perspectives: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction, ed. A. H. Fischer, 2nd series, 277-98. New York: Cambridge University
Mogi, K., T. Funabashi, et al. (2005). "Sex difference in the response of melaninconcentrating hormone neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area to glucose, as revealed by the expression of phosphorylated cyclic adenosine 3', 5'- monophosphate response element-binding protein." Endocrinology 146 (8):
Muscarella, F., V. A. Elias, et al. (2004). "Brain differentiation and preferred partner characteristics in heterosexual and homosexual men and women." Neuro Endocrinol Lett 25 (4): 297-301.
Naliboff, B. D., S. Berman, et al. (2003). "Sex-related differences in IBS patients: Central processing of visceral stimuli." Gastroenterology 124 (7): 1738-47.
Nawata, H., T. Yanase, et al. (2004). "Adrenopause." Horm Res 62 (Suppl. 3): 110-14.
Nishida, Y., M. Yoshioka, et al. (2005). "Sexually dimorphic gene expression in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and cortex." Genomics 85 (6): 679-87.
Oatridge, A., A. Holdcroft, et al. (2002). "Change in brain size during and after pregnancy: Study in healthy women and women with preeclampsia." AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 23 (1): 19-26.
Overman, W. H., J. Bachevalier, et al. (1996). "Cognitive gender differences in very young children parallel biologically based cognitive gender differences in monkeys." Behav Neurosci 110 (4): 673-84.
Plante, E., V. J. Schmithorst, et al. (2006). "Sex differences in the activation of language cortex during childhood." Neuropsychologia 44 (7): 1210-21.
Putnam, K., G. P. Chrousos, et al. (2005). "Sex-related differences in stimulated hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis during induced gonadal suppression." J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90 (7): 4224-31.
Qian, S. Z., Y. Cheng Xu, et al. (2000). "Hormonal deficiency in elderly males." Int J Androl 23 (Suppl. 2): 1-3.
Rahman, Q. (2005). "The neurodevelopment of human sexual orientation." Neurosci Biobehav Rev 29 (7): 1057-66.
Roalf, D., N. Lowery, et al. (2006). "Behavioral and physiological findings of gender differences in global-local visual processing." Brain Cogn 60 (1): 32-42.
Romeo, R. D., H. N. Richardson, et al. (2002). "Puberty and the maturation of the male brain and sexual behavior: Recasting a behavioral potential." Neurosci Biobehav Rev 26 (3): 381-91.
Romeo, R. D., and C. L. Sisk (2001). "Pubertal and seasonal plasticity in the amygdala." Brain Res 889 (1-2): 71-77.
Rose, A. B., D. P. Merke, et al. (2004). "Effects of hormones and sex chromosomes on stress-influenced regions of the developing pediatric brain." Ann NY Acad Sci 1032:231-33.
Rotter, N. G. (1988). "Sex differences in the encoding and decoding of negative facial emotions." Journal of Nonverbal Behavior 12:139-48.
Routtenberg, A. (2005). "Estrogen changes wiring of female rat brain during the estrus/menstrual cycle." Society for Neuroscience meeting, Washington, DC.
Sa, S. I., and M. D. Madeira (2005). "Neuronal organelles and nuclear pores of hypothalamic ventromedial neurons are sexually dimorphic and change during the estrus cycle in the rat." Neuroscience 133 (4): 919-24.
Schirmer, A., and S. A. Kotz (2003). "ERP evidence for a sex-specific Stroop effect in emotional speech." J Cogn Neurosci 15 (8): 1135-48.
Schirmer, A., T. Striano, et al. (2005). "Sex differences in the preattentive processing of vocal emotional expressions." Neuroreport 16 (6): 635-39.
Schirmer, A., S. Zysset, et al. (2004). "Gender differences in the activation of inferior frontal cortex during emotional speech perception." Neuroimage 21 (3): 1114-23.
Seeman, T. E., B. Singer, et al. (2001). "Gender differences in age-related changes in HPA axis reactivity." Psychoneuroendocrinology 26 (3): 225-40.
Seidlitz, L., and E. Diener (1998). "Sex differences in the recall of affective experiences." J Pers Soc Psychol 74 (1): 262-71.
Shaywitz, B. A., S. E. Shaywitz, et al. (1995). "Sex differences in the functional organization of the brain for language." Nature 373 (6515): 607-9.
Shirao, N., Y. Okamoto, et al. (2005). "Gender differences in brain activity toward unpleasant linguistic stimuli concerning interpersonal relationships: An fMRI study." Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 255 (5): 327-33.
Sininger, Y. (1998). "Gender distinctions and lateral asymmetry in the low-level auditory brainstem response of the human neonate." Hearing Research 128:58-66.
Sokhi, D. S., M. D. Hunter, et al. (2005). "Male and female voices activate distinct regions in the male brain." Neuroimage 27 (3): 572-78.
Spelke, E. S. (2005). "Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science?: A critical review." Am Psychol 60 (9): 950-58.
Staley, J. K., G. Sanacora, et al. (2006). "Sex differences in diencephalon serotonin transporter availability in major depression." Biol Psychiatry 59 (1): 40-47.
Stroud, L. R., G. D. Papandonatos, et al. (2004). "Sex differences in the effects of pubertal development on responses to a corticotropin-releasing hormone challenge: The Pittsburgh psychobiologic studies." Ann NY Acad Sci 1021:348-51.
Swaab, D. F., W. C. Chung, et al. (2001). "Structural and functional sex differences in the human hypothalamus." Horm Behav 40 (2): 93-98.
Swaab, D. F., L. J. Gooren, et al. (1995). "Brain research, gender and sexual orientation." J Homosex 28 (3-4): 283-301.
Wager, T. D., and K. N. Ochsner (2005). "Sex differences in the emotional brain." Neuroreport 16 (2): 85-87.
Walker, Q. D., M. B. Rooney, et al. (2000). "Dopamine release and uptake are greater in female than male rat striatum as measured by fast cyclic voltammetry." Neuroscience 95 (4): 1061-70.
Wallen, K. (2005). "Hormonal influences on sexually differentiated behavior in nonhuman primates." Front Neuroendocrinol 26 (1): 7-26.
Weinberg, M. K. (1999). "Gender differences in emotional expressivity and selfregulation during early infancy." Dev Psychol 35 (1): 175-88.
Witelson, S. F., H. Beresh, et al. (2006). "Intelligence and brain size in 100 postmortem brains: Sex, lateralization and age factors." Brain 129 (Pt. 2): 386-98.
Witelson, S. F. (1995). "Women have greater density of neurons in posterior temporal cortex." J Neurosci 15 (5, Pt. 1): 3418-28.
Wrase, J., S. Klein, et al. (2003). "Gender differences in the processing of standardized emotional visual stimuli in humans: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study." Neurosci Lett 348 (1): 41-45.


  1. That is one very impressive list.


  2. So the obvious questions:

    - Are these studies approved by mainstream feminism or were they run by patriarchy, in male dominated, female unfriendly labs?

    - Why is science putting women down? why is science suggesting the brains should be different? and, who cares what science thinks?

    - Do the red zones represent damaged parts? testosterone infection?

    - The female brain looks healthier and somewhat superior. This is the only major difference I see by looking at the chart while nodding.

    - The male brain is clearly oppressing the female brain. See how intimidated the poor thing looks. Clearly a case of brain violence against women.

    - Rape. OMG Im SO rolling my eyes right now.

  3. Very good post. In my favorites God knows that feminist science is in need of some challenging.