Women Have More Active Brains Than Men

Women Have More Active Brains Than Men

Women Have More Active Brains Than MenLargest functional brain imaging study to date identifies specific brain differences between women and men, according to a new report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the largest functional brain imaging study to date, the Amen Clinics (Newport Beach, CA) compared 46,034 brain SPECT imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Lead author psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, Medical Director, Amen Clinics, Inc., commented, “This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences. The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, is essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”

The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety. The visual and coordination centers of the brain were more active in men. Single photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, can measure blood perfusion in the brain. Images acquired from subjects at rest or while performing various cognitive tasks will show different blood flow in specific brain regions.

Subjects included 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and ADHD. A total of 128 brain regions were analyzed for subjects at baseline and while performing a concentration task.

Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct-related problems, and incarceration (by 1,400%).

The study findings of increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern. The study also found increased blood flow in limbic areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.


Caption: Side view of the brain summarizing blood flow results from tens of thousands of study subjects show increased blood flow in women compared to men, highlighted in the red colored areas of the brain: the cingulate gyrus and precuneus. Men in this image have higher blood flow in blue colored areas – the cerebellum.

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Depression Affects Male and Female Brains Differently

Depression Affects Male and Female Brains Differently

Summary: Exposing depressed adolescents to positive and negative words elicited different effects in specific brain regions depending on the sex of the subject, a new Frontiers in Psychiatry study reports.

Source: Frontiers.

New findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys might experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents.

When researchers in the UK exposed depressed adolescents to happy or sad words and imaged their brains, they found that depression has different effects on the brain activity of male and female patients in certain brain regions. The findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys might experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents.

Men and women appear to suffer from depression differently, and this is particularly striking in adolescents. By 15 years of age, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys. There are various possible reasons for this, including body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors, where girls are more at risk of inheriting depression. However, differences between the sexes don’t just involve the risk of experiencing depression, but also how the disorder manifests and its consequences.

Image shows brain scans.

“Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic,” explains Jie-Yu Chuang, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and an author on the study, which was recently published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. “Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide.” Despite this, so far, most researchers have focused on depression in women, likely because it is more common.

This motivated Chuang and her colleagues to carry out this latest study to find differences between depressed men and women. They recruited adolescent volunteers for the study, who were aged between 11 and 18 years. This included 82 female and 24 male patients who suffered from depression, and 24 female and 10 male healthy volunteers. The researchers imaged the adolescents’ brains using magnetic resonance imaging, while flashing happy, sad or neutral words on a screen in a specific order.

The volunteers pressed a button when certain types of words appeared and did not press the button when others appeared, and the researchers measured their brain activity throughout the experiment. When the researchers flashed certain combinations of words on the screen, they noticed that depression affects brain activity differently between boys and girls in brain regions such as the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate.

So, what do these results mean? “Our finding suggests that early in adolescence, depression might affect the brain differently between boys and girls,” explains Chuang. “Sex-specific treatment and prevention strategies for depression should be considered early in adolescence. Hopefully, these early interventions could alter the disease trajectory before things get worse.”

The brain regions highlighted in the study have been previously linked to depression, but further work is needed to understand why they are affected differently in depressed boys, and if this is related to how boys experience and handle depression.

Because depression is more common in girls, the researchers were not able to recruit as many boys in this study, and future experiments should compare similar numbers of girls and boys for more representative results. Chuang and her colleagues would like to explore this phenomenon further. “I think it would be great to conduct a large longitudinal study addressing sex differences in depression from adolescence to adulthood.”


Funding: Funding provided by Medical Research Council, NHS Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Source: Melissa Cochrane – Frontiers
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to the researchers/Frontiers.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder: Neuroimaging Evidence of Sex Difference during an Affective Go/No-Go Task” by Jie-Yu Chuang, Cindy C. Hagan, Graham K. Murray, Julia M. E. Graham, Cinly Ooi, Roger Tait, Rosemary J. Holt, Rebecca Elliott, Adrienne O. van Nieuwenhuizen, Edward T. Bullmore, Belinda R. Lennox, Barbara J. Sahakian, Ian M. Goodyer, and John Suckling in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Published online July 11 2017 doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00119

Frontiers “Depression Affects Male and Female Brains Differently.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 11 July 2017.


Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder: Neuroimaging Evidence of Sex Difference during an Affective Go/No-Go Task

Compared to female major depressive disorder (MDD), male MDD often receives less attention. However, research is warranted since there are significant sex differences in the clinical presentation of MDD and a higher rate of suicide in depressed men. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study with a large sample addressing putative sex differences in MDD during adolescence, a period when one of the most robust findings in psychiatric epidemiology emerges; that females are twice as likely to suffer from MDD than males. Twenty-four depressed and 10 healthy male adolescents, together with 82 depressed and 24 healthy female adolescents, aged 11–18 years, undertook an affective go/no-go task during fMRI acquisition. In response to sad relative to neutral distractors, significant sex differences (in the supramarginal gyrus) and group-by-sex interactions (in the supramarginal gyrus and the posterior cingulate cortex) were found. Furthermore, in contrast to the healthy male adolescents, depressed male adolescents showed decreased activation in the cerebellum with a significant group-by-age interaction in connectivity. Future research may consider altered developmental trajectories and the possible implications of sex-specific treatment and prevention strategies for MDD.

“Adolescent Major Depressive Disorder: Neuroimaging Evidence of Sex Difference during an Affective Go/No-Go Task” by Jie-Yu Chuang, Cindy C. Hagan, Graham K. Murray, Julia M. E. Graham, Cinly Ooi, Roger Tait, Rosemary J. Holt, Rebecca Elliott, Adrienne O. van Nieuwenhuizen, Edward T. Bullmore, Belinda R. Lennox, Barbara J. Sahakian, Ian M. Goodyer, and John Suckling in Frontiers in Psychiatry. Published online July 11 2017 doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00119

Oral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria

Oral sex spreading unstoppable bacteria

KissingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Oral sex is producing dangerous gonorrhoea and a decline in condom use is helping it to spread, the World Health Organization has said.

It warns that if someone contracts gonorrhoea, it is now much harder to treat, and in some cases impossible.

The sexually transmitted infection is rapidly developing resistance to antibiotics.

Experts said the situation was “fairly grim” with few new drugs on the horizon.

About 78 million people pick up the STI each year and it can cause infertility.

The World Health Organization analysed data from 77 countries which showed gonorrhoea’s resistance to antibiotics was widespread.

Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said there had even been three cases – in Japan, France and Spain – where the infection was completely untreatable.

She said: “Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhoea, the bug becomes resistant.”

Worryingly, the vast majority of gonorrhoea infections are in poor countries where resistance is harder to detect.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg,” she added.

Throat infection

Gonorrhoea can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, but it is the last that is most concerning health officials.

Dr Wi said antibiotics could lead to bacteria in the back of the throat, including relatives of gonorrhoea, developing resistance.

She said: “When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance.”

Thrusting gonorrhoea bacteria into this environment through oral sex can lead to super-gonorrhoea.

“In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection,” she added.

A decline in condom use, which had soared because of fears of HIV/Aids, is thought to help the infection spread.

What is gonorrhoea?


The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea.

The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.

Symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods.

However, of those infected, about one in 10 heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women, and gay men, have no easily recognisable symptoms.

Untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy.

The World Health Organization is calling on countries to monitor the spread of resistant gonorrhoea and to invest in new drugs.

Dr Manica Balasegaram, from the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said: “The situation is fairly grim.

“There are only three drug candidates in the entire drug [development] pipeline and no guarantee any will make it out.”

But ultimately, the WHO said vaccines would be needed to stop gonorrhoea.

Prof Richard Stabler, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Ever since the introduction of penicillin, hailed as a reliable and quick cure, gonorrhoea has developed resistance to all therapeutic antibiotics.

“In the past 15 years therapy has had to change three times following increasing rates of resistance worldwide.

“We are now at a point where we are using the drugs of last resort, but there are worrying signs as treatment failure due to resistant strains has been documented.”

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Is oral sex more common now? By BBC World online

It’s hard to say if more people around the world are having more oral sex than they used to, as there isn’t much reliable global data available.

Data from the UK and US show it’s very common, and has been for years, including among teenagers.

The UK’s first National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, carried out in 1990-1991, found 69.7% of men and 65.6% of women had given oral sex to, or received it from, a partner of the opposite sex in the previous year.

By the time of the second survey during 1999-2001, this had increased to 77.9% for men and 76.8% for women, but hasn’t changed much since.

A national survey in the US, meanwhile, has found about two-thirds of 15-24 year olds have ever had oral sex.

Dr Mark Lawton from the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV said people with gonorrhoea in the throat would be unlikely to realise it and thus be more likely to pass it on via oral sex.

He recognises that while condoms would reduce the risk of transmission, many people wouldn’t want to use them.

“My message would be to get tested so at least if you’ve got it you know about it,” Dr Lawton said.