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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Aug 28;8:650. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00650. eCollection 2014.

Recommendations for sex/gender neuroimaging research: key principles and implications for research design, analysis, and interpretation.

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Aston Brain Centre, School of Life and Health Sciences (Psychology), Aston University Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.
Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY, USA.
Department of Social Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Bern Bern, Switzerland.
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Melbourne Business School, and Centre for Ethical Leadership, University of Melbourne Carlton, VIC, Australia.


Neuroimaging (NI) technologies are having increasing impact in the study of complex cognitive and social processes. In this emerging field of social cognitive neuroscience, a central goal should be to increase the understanding of the interaction between the neurobiology of the individual and the environment in which humans develop and function. The study of sex/gender is often a focus for NI research, and may be motivated by a desire to better understand general developmental principles, mental health problems that show female-male disparities, and gendered differences in society. In order to ensure the maximum possible contribution of NI research to these goals, we draw attention to four key principles-overlap, mosaicism, contingency and entanglement-that have emerged from sex/gender research and that should inform NI research design, analysis and interpretation. We discuss the implications of these principles in the form of constructive guidelines and suggestions for researchers, editors, reviewers and science communicators.


brain imaging; essentialism; gender; plasticity; sex differences; sex similarities; stereotypes

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