Sex Differences in the Healthy Brain
A 2001 report by the National Institute of Medicine emphasized the urgent need to develop translational research on understanding sex differences in the brain and their impact on clinical medicine.
Although substantial work has identified multiple ways in which one's sex impacts health and disease, we still do not fully understand the underlying neurobiological mechanisms that give rise to sex differences in the healthy brain as it develops over time, and how these differences change during the aging process. Understanding sex differences in the healthy brain is a critical first step toward understanding what processes go awry in psychiatric and neurologic disorders with known sex differences.
Our team is investigating the fetal and neonatal programming of sex differences in the healthy brain and the expression of these differences in adulthood. We are investigating the hormonal and genetic regulation of brain morphology and brain function using structural and functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and hormonal and genetic studies in tandem with brain imaging. We have the unique opportunity to have followed a prenatal cohort as adults for > 20 years, wherein adult offspring are now 55-60 years old, allowing us to investigate how early life events (in utero and in childhood) give rise to sex differences in the healthy adult brain.