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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2007 Feb;41(2):136-41.

Sex differences in the cerebral function associated with processing of aversive stimuli by schizophrenia patients.

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Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, 7331 Hochelaga, Montréal, (QC), H1N 3V2, Canada.



Impaired processing of various emotions is considered one of the fundamental features of schizophrenia. In the recent study intriguing sex differences were observed in the cerebral function associated with the experience of sadness in schizophrenia patients. The aim of the present study was to explore this phenomenon during exposure to aversive stimuli.


Fifteen men and 10 women with the DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing alternating blocks of negative and neutral pictures. Data were analysed using random-effects model within statistical parametric mapping (SPM99) software.


Processing of negative stimuli evoked significantly greater activations in men in the thalamus, cerebellum, temporal, occipital and posterior cingulate cortex, while women exhibited greater activations in the left middle frontal gyrus.


The sex differences in the cerebral activations in schizophrenia patients deviate from what has been observed in the general population during exposure and experience of negative affect. As such the present study supports and extends the authors' preliminary observation of the anomalous sexual dimorphism in schizophrenia at the functional neuroanatomical level, suggesting potential masculinization of female subjects and feminization of male subjects with schizophrenia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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