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Neuroimage. 2012 Jul 16;61(4):931-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.03.080. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Combined structural and resting-state functional MRI analysis of sexual dimorphism in the young adult human brain: an MVPA approach.

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College of Mechatronics and Automation, National University of Defense Technology, Changsha, Hunan 410073, China.


There has been growing interest recently in the use of multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) to decode information from high-dimensional neuroimaging data. The present study employed a support vector machine-based MVPA approach to identify the complex patterns of sex differences in brain structure and resting-state function. We also aimed to assess the role of anatomy on functional sex differences during rest. One hundred and forty healthy young Chinese adults (70 men and 70 women) underwent structural and resting-state functional MRI scans. Gray matter density and regional homogeneity (ReHo) were used to map brain structure and resting-state function, respectively. After combining these two feature vectors into one union-vector, a pattern classifier was designed using principal component analysis and linear support vector machine to identify brain areas that had distinct characteristics between the groups. We found that: (1) male and female brains were different with a mean classification accuracy of 89%; (2) sex differences in gray matter density were widely distributed in the brain, notably in the occipital lobe and the cerebellum; (3) men primarily showed higher ReHo in their right hemispheres and women tended to show greater ReHo in their left hemispheres; (4) about 50% of brain areas with functional sex differences exhibited significant positive correlations between gray matter density and ReHo. Our results suggest that sex is an important factor that account for interindividual variability in the healthy brain.

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