Sex Differences Extend into the Brain

While women and men struggle to communicate with each other and ponder why they don’t think and react to things in similar ways, science is proving that the differences in our brains may have more serious implications beyond our everyday social interactions. What was once speculation is now being confirmed by scientists: the brains of women and men are different in more ways than one. Discoveries by scientists over the past 10 years have elucidated biological sex differences in brain structure, chemistry and function. “These variations occur throughout the brain, in regions involved in language, memory, emotion, vision, hearing and navigation,” explains Larry Cahill, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. While women and men struggle to communicate with each other and ponder why they don’t think and react to things in similar ways, science is proving that the differences in our brains may have more serious implications beyond our everyday social interactions. Scientists are looking into ways that sex-based brain variations affect the thought processes and behavior of men and women differently. According to Cahill, “their discoveries could point the way to sex-specific therapies for men and women with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.” To better understand the implications of sex differences in the brain, it is important to examine disease entities in depth. Take Alzheimer’s disease, for example. Significant differences exist between men and women who suffer from the disease. “There are growing indications that the disease pathology, and the relationship between pathology and behavioral disturbance, differs significantly between...