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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2019 Jan;44(1):200-213. doi: 10.1038/s41386-018-0208-4. Epub 2018 Sep 7.

Sex differences in hippocampal cognition and neurogenesis.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada.
2
Department of Psychology, Graduate Program in Neuroscience, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada. liisa.galea@ubc.ca.

Abstract

Sex differences are reported in hippocampal plasticity, cognition, and in a number of disorders that target the integrity of the hippocampus. For example, meta-analyses reveal that males outperform females on hippocampus-dependent tasks in rodents and in humans, furthermore women are more likely to experience greater cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and depression, both diseases characterized by hippocampal dysfunction. The hippocampus is a highly plastic structure, important for processing higher order information and is sensitive to the environmental factors such as stress. The structure retains the ability to produce new neurons and this process plays an important role in pattern separation, proactive interference, and cognitive flexibility. Intriguingly, there are prominent sex differences in the level of neurogenesis and the activation of new neurons in response to hippocampus-dependent cognitive tasks in rodents. However, sex differences in spatial performance can be nuanced as animal studies have demonstrated that there are task, and strategy choice dependent sex differences in performance, as well as sex differences in the subregions of the hippocampus influenced by learning. This review discusses sex differences in pattern separation, pattern completion, spatial learning, and links between adult neurogenesis and these cognitive functions of the hippocampus. We emphasize the importance of including both sexes when studying genomic, cellular, and structural mechanisms of the hippocampal function.

PMID:
30214058
PMCID:
PMC6235970
DOI:
10.1038/s41386-018-0208-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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