Largest Neuroimaging Study to Quantify Gender-Based Brain Differences

Largest Neuroimaging Study to Quantify Gender-Based Brain Differences


In a unique functional neuroimaging studies, considered as the largest to date, researchers at the Amen Clinics, in the Newport Beach area, U.S., conducted single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging studies on tens of thousands of subjects to quantify cognitive-based difference between men and women. The gender-based study, published on 4 August 2017 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017, compared as many as 46,034 brain SPECT imaging analysis that was provided by nine clinics.

According to one of the lead authors, the study findings will pave way for better analyzing gender-based risks for brain disorders, especially Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This can be a stepping stone in developing precision medicine for brain treatment, mainly by understanding physiological and structural basis of gender-based differences in brain functioning.

SPECT Imaging Tool Key to Measuring Blood Perfusion in Brain Areas

The neuroimaging tool SPECT is used to measure blood flow in specific regions of the brain in the research subjects. Images were obtained from subjects found at rest and while performing any cognitive function or concentration task. In total, 128 brain areas were analyzed.

The study showed that women, compared to men subjects, were noticeably more active and in more parts of the brain that were specifically linked to impulse control and focus. The images of the women’s brain also showed increased blood flow in limbic parts of the brain connected with the expression of mood or anxiety. On the other hand, the study findings underscored that the parts of the brain linked with visual functions and coordination were significantly more active among men.

Women more Affected by Alzheimer’s disease while Men to Conduct-Related Disorders

The research findings corroborates the fact that brain disorders have been found to influence women and men differently. Typically, women have a higher incidence of AD and other and anxiety disorders. In addition, they are more affected by depression. Men, on the other hand, have a higher prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and more impacted by various conduct-related disorders.

The research subject was comprehensive in scope as it included 119 healthy subjects and 26,683 diseased volunteers that were affected by various psychiatric conditions, such as psychotic disorders, brain trauma, bipolar disorders, and ADHD.