Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Ingalhalikar, Madhura; Smith, Alex; Parker, Drew; Satterthwaite, Theodore D; Elliott, Mark A; Ruparel, Kosha; Hakonarson, Hakon; Gur, Raquel E; Gur, Ruben C; Verma, Ragini
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Volume: 111
Issue: 2
Pagination: 823-8
Date Published: 2014 Jan 14
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1091-6490
Keywords: Adolescent, Brain, Child, Connectome, Diffusion tensor imaging, Female, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Sex Characteristics, Young Adult

Sex differences in human behavior show adaptive complementarity: Males have better motor and spatial abilities, whereas females have superior memory and social cognition skills. Studies also show sex differences in human brains but do not explain this complementarity. In this work, we modeled the structural connectome using diffusion tensor imaging in a sample of 949 youths (aged 8-22 y, 428 males and 521 females) and discovered unique sex differences in brain connectivity during the course of development. Connection-wise statistical analysis, as well as analysis of regional and global network measures, presented a comprehensive description of network characteristics. In all supratentorial regions, males had greater within-hemispheric connectivity, as well as enhanced modularity and transitivity, whereas between-hemispheric connectivity and cross-module participation predominated in females. However, this effect was reversed in the cerebellar connections. Analysis of these changes developmentally demonstrated differences in trajectory between males and females mainly in adolescence and in adulthood. Overall, the results suggest that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1316909110
Alternate Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.