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Gender Difference in Brain Development May Explain Mental Health Issues

Researchers have puzzled over why certain mental health disorders occur more frequently and severely among one gender but not the other.

Examples include autism and schizophrenia, which are more common and severe among boys than girls, yet the biological basis for this difference between the two sexes is unknown.

Using animal models, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered differences in the development of the amygdala region of the brain – which is critical to the expression of emotional and social behaviors.

The investigators believe this finding may help to explain why some mental health disorders are more prevalent among boys.

They also found a surprising variable — a difference between males and females in the level of endocannabinoid, a natural substance in the brain that affected their behavior, specifically how they played.

The study results are published online this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D., senior author and a professor of physiology and psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that female rats have about 30 to 50 percent more glial cells in the amygdala region of the temporal lobe of the brain than their male litter mates.

They also found that the females had lower amounts of endocannabinoidsUniversity of Maryland Medical Center

Gender Difference in Brain Development May Explain Mental Health Issues

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Gender Difference in Brain Development May Explain Mental Health Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/18/gender-difference-in-brain-development-may-explain-mental-health-issues/21033.html


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.