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Neuroscientist. 2010 Oct;16(5):550-65. doi: 10.1177/1073858410377005.

Sex differences in the brain, behavior, and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Author information

1
Department of Neurobiology, Institute of Neuroscience, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China. baoaimin@zju.edu.cn

Abstract

Sex differences in the brain are reflected in behavior and in the risk for neuropsychiatric disorders. The fetal brain develops in the male direction due to a direct effect of testosterone on the developing neurons, or in the female direction due to the absence of such a testosterone surge. Because sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place earlier in intrauterine life than sexual differentiation of the brain, these two processes can be influenced independently of each other. Gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender), sexual orientation (heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality), pedophilia, sex differences in cognition, and the risks for neuropsychiatric disorders are programmed into our brains during early development. There is no proof that postnatal social environment has any crucial effect on gender identity or sexual orientation. Structural and functional sex differences in brain areas, together with changes in sex hormone levels and their receptors in development and adulthood, are closely related to sex differences in behavior and neuropsychiatric disorders. Knowing that such a relationship exists may help bring about sex-specific therapeutic strategies.

PMID:
20889965
DOI:
10.1177/1073858410377005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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