Male and female behavioural differences correlate with their different brain networks, say scientists, including one of Indian origin, a finding that may lead to personalised treatments for particular disorders.
In a new study, differences in the neural wiring of men and women across ages, matched behavioral differences commonly associated with each of the sexes.
Researchers from University of Pennsylvania in US performed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) brain scans and administered a computerised neurocognitive battery (CNB) of tests on 900 randomly selected healthy and unmedicated children and young adults, ages 8 to 22 years.
They wanted to find how structural differences in the brain may relate to male and female behaviour differences such as men being more likely to be better at learning and performing a single task at hand and women being more likely to exhibit superior memory and social cognition skills.
These methods allowed them to develop a structural connectome, akin to a road map of each subject’s brain.
As a natural gateway to fathom the human mind and behaviour, studies concentrating on the human structural connectome are an important part of efforts to investigate sex difference, researchers said.
The findings have potential implications for treatment of a variety of conditions. Differences in the cause and progression of some diseases and disorders according to sex sometimes influence treatment of those conditions.
For instance, men are far more likely to get autism than women are. And in schizophrenia, which is also more frequent in males, the onset and severity of the disease differ between the sexes.
“Links between brain and behaviour possibly rely on a complex interplay among multiple features of the neurobiological mechanism,” said Ragini Verma from University of Pennsylvania.
“Network theoretical studies pertaining to the properties of the structural connectome may provide pioneering insights into these links,” Verma said.
Researchers studied sex related differences in the connectivity of the subnetworks that were defined based on structural characteristics, functional systems, and behavioural domains.
Subnetworks are clusters of brain regions and their connectivity, which are associated with functionality or behavioural domains such as motor abilities, social motivation or cognitive control.
“On a macro level, behaviour-related disorders manifest and progress differently based on sex, and these findings should advance conversations about how we manage some of those conditions,” said Verma.
“Our results suggest a synchrony between sex-related differences in the brain network and behaviour,” she said. The findings were published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.