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J Neurosci Res. 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):371-379. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23919.

Multimodal neuroimaging of male and female brain structure in health and disease across the life span.

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Imaging Genetics Center, Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging & Informatics Institute, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Marina del Rey, California.


Sex differences in brain development and aging are important to identify, as they may help to understand risk factors and outcomes in brain disorders that are more prevalent in one sex compared with the other. Brain imaging techniques have advanced rapidly in recent years, yielding detailed structural and functional maps of the living brain. Even so, studies are often limited in sample size, and inconsistent findings emerge, one example being varying findings regarding sex differences in the size of the corpus callosum. More recently, large-scale neuroimaging consortia such as the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta Analysis Consortium have formed, pooling together expertise, data, and resources from hundreds of institutions around the world to ensure adequate power and reproducibility. These initiatives are helping us to better understand how brain structure is affected by development, disease, and potential modulators of these effects, including sex. This review highlights some established and disputed sex differences in brain structure across the life span, as well as pitfalls related to interpreting sex differences in health and disease. We also describe sex-related findings from the ENIGMA consortium, and ongoing efforts to better understand sex differences in brain circuitry. © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Neuroscience Research Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


brain development; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroimaging; sexual dimorphism; white matter

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