Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Richard Brightwell

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Roberts

Abstract

Sexual dimorphism of the central nervous system is a still widely debated and an area of much research. Conclusive evidence that anatomical and physiological differences in the CNS exist has been reported by post-mortem studies and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This present study seeks to contribute to the understanding of the differences in the brain between genders and to ascertain reasons as to why the literature is so varied. A number of structures such as the cerebral cortex, hypothalamic nuclei and the amygdala have proven to be significantly larger within males as opposed to females. The nuclei of the hypothalamus and the amygdala are involved in a variety of functions all closely related to sexual behaviour. The increase in size of these structures within males may contribute to the increase in psychosexual disorders seen more commonly in males. The anterior commissure and corpus callosum, two grey matter structures, have been shown to be larger in females, enabling females to utilise both hemispheres of the cerebrum when unde1iaking certain tasks, whereas males are seen to use one hemisphere. It is known that certain diseases and disorders are more common or appear more severe in one sex compared to the other. Correlations have been found linking disease prevalence and severity with androgens, yet few have reported relationships between brain structure and disease. Neuropsychological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia have been linked to the anatomical differences of the male and female brain, however the pathology of the majority of sexually dimorphic diseases remains largely unknown. Experimental designs need to be reassessed in order to provide significant evidence of sexual dimorphism in these pathologies. Sex must be seen as an important variable that needs to be accounted for in order to contribute to the understanding of the functional differences exhibited by males and females.

Included in

Diseases Commons

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