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Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:200-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.076. Epub 2013 May 28.

Sex differences in thickness, and folding developments throughout the cortex.

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University of Geneva, Rue David-Dufour 1, Case postale 50, 1211 Genève 8, Switzerland.


While significant differences in male and female brain structures have commonly been reported, only a few studies have focused on the sex differences in the way the cortex matures over time. Here, we investigated cortical thickness maturation between the age of 6 to 30 years, using 209 longitudinally-acquired brain MRI scans. Significant sex differences in the trajectories of cortical thickness change with age were evidenced using non-linear mixed effects models. Similar statistical analyses were computed to quantify the differences between cortical gyrification changes with age in males and females. During adolescence, we observed a statistically significant higher rate of cortical thinning in females compared to males in the right temporal regions, the left temporoparietal junction and the left orbitofrontal cortex. This finding is interpreted as a faster maturation of the social brain areas in females. Concomitantly, statistically significant sex differences in cortical folding changes with age were observed only in one cluster of the right prefrontal regions, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying cortical thickness and gyrification changes with age are quite distinct. Sexual dimorphism in the developmental course of the cortical maturation may be associated with the different age of onset and clinical presentation of many psychiatric disorders between males and females.


Brain maturation; Cortical folding; Cortical thickness; Gender differences; Gyrification; Neuroimaging

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