Tag Archives: Clues to brain differences between males and females

University of Maryland School of Medicine study: Clues to brain differences between males and females

2 Mar

Some in society are pushing the concept of gender-neutral. Alina Tugend wrote Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Overcoming gender disparities may require us to take a more nuanced approach to problem solving. For example, if we want more girls and women, who are now woefully underrepresented, to take more science, technology, engineering, and math classes, and we agree that it’s not innate ability holding them back, the answer might be to show scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to be attractive and caring rather than nerdy. Or change the physical environment of classrooms and laboratories to make them more appealing to girls.
Then again, does this counter or reinforce gender stereotypes? Good people disagree.
One thing that’s easy to forget, as Janet Hyde points out, is that variations within genders are greater than variations between them. I see the truth of that in my own home. Both my boys are into sports, but one is far more talkative and intellectually curious, while the other ranks higher on intuition and emotional intelligence. If they were a boy and a girl, it would be easy to attribute these differences to gender. As it is, I guess I’ll have to blame—or credit—the vast and ever-shifting mishmash of biology, parenting, peer influence, and culture. http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2014-gender-assumptions/engendering-sons-it-doable-or-even-desirable

One study points to the idea that gender concept starts early.

Science Daily reported in Infants prefer toys typed to their gender:

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study from academics at City University London and UCL.
The paper, which is published in the journal of Infant and Child Development, shows that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences were evident at an earlier age than gendered identity is usually demonstrated.
The research therefore suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences.
To investigate the gender preferences seen with toys, the researchers observed the toy preferences of boys and girls engaged in independent play in UK nurseries, without the presence of a parent. The toys used in the study were a doll, a pink teddy bear and a cooking pot for girls, while for boys a car, a blue teddy, a digger and a ball were used.
The 101 boys and girls fell into three age groups: 9 to 17 months, when infants can first demonstrate toy preferences in independent play (N=40); 18 to 23 months, when critical advances in gender knowledge occur (N=29); and 24 to 32 months, when knowledge becomes further established (N=32).
Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys….
“Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9-17months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/16

See Dr. Wilda https://drwilda.com/tag/gender/ , https://drwilda.com/tag/gender-differences/

Science Daily reported in Clues to brain differences between males and females: How male sex steroids play a key role in understanding behavioral development:

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research, conducted by Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D., who Chairs the Department of Pharmacology, could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
The research, published in Neuron, discovered a mechanism for how androgens, male sex steroids, sculpt the brains of male rats to produce behavioral differences, such as more aggression and rougher play behavior. “We already knew that the brains of males and females are different and that testosterone produced during the second trimester in humans and late gestation in rodents contributes to the differences but we did not know how testosterone has these effects” said Dr. McCarthy.
Jonathan Van Ryzin, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow, was lead author on this research conducted in Dr. McCarthy’s lab.
A key contributor to the differences in play behavior between males and females is a sex-based difference in the number of newborn cells in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls emotions and social behaviors. The research showed that males have fewer of these newborn cells, because they are actively eliminated by immune cells.
In females, the newborn cells differentiated into a type of glial cell, the most abundant type of cell in the central nervous system. In males however, testosterone increased signaling at receptors in the brain which bind endocannabinoids, causing immune cells to be activated. The endocannabinoids prompted the immune cells to effectively eliminate the newborn cells in males. Females rats in the study were unaffected, suggesting that the activation of the immune cells by the increased endocannabinoids in males was necessary for cell elimination. In this respect, this research shows that cannabis use, which stimulates endocannabinoids in the brain and nervous system, could impact brain development of the fetus and this impact could differ between male and female fetuses.
This study provides a mechanism for sex-based differences in social behaviors and suggests that differences in androgen and endocannabinoid signaling may contribute to individual differences in brain development and thus behavioral differences among people…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190301160901.htm

Citation:

Clues to brain differences between males and females
How male sex steroids play a key role in understanding behavioral development
Date: March 1, 2019
Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
Journal Reference:
Jonathan W. VanRyzin, Ashley E. Marquardt, Kathryn J. Argue, Haley A. Vecchiarelli, Sydney E. Ashton, Sheryl E. Arambula, Matthew N. Hill, Margaret M. McCarthy. Microglial Phagocytosis of Newborn Cells Is Induced by Endocannabinoids and Sculpts Sex Differences in Juvenile Rat Social Play. Neuron, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.02.006

Here is the press release from the University of Maryland School of Medicine:

UMSOM Researchers Discover Clues to Brain Differences Between Males and Females
NewsArchive Pages2019 ArchiveUMSOM Researchers Discover Clues to Brain Differences Between Males and Females
March 01, 2019 | Joanne Morrison
New Study by Dr. Margaret McCarthy’s Lab Shows How Male Sex Steroids Play a Key Role in Understanding Behavioral Development
Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered a mechanism for how androgens — male sex steroids — sculpt brain development. The research, conducted by Margaret M. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, could ultimately help researchers understand behavioral development differences between males and females.
The research, published in Neuron, discovered a mechanism for how androgens, male sex steroids, sculpt the brains of male rats to produce behavioral differences, such as more aggression and rougher play behavior. “We already knew that the brains of males and females are different and that testosterone produced during the second trimester in humans and late gestation in rodents contributes to the differences but we did not know how testosterone has these effects,” said Dr. McCarthy.
Jonathan Van Ryzin, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow, was lead author on this research conducted in Dr. McCarthy’s lab.
A key contributor to the differences in play behavior between males and females is a sex-based difference in the number of newborn cells in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls emotions and social behaviors. The research showed that males have fewer of these newborn cells, because they are actively eliminated by immune cells.
In females, the newborn cells differentiated into a type of glial cell, the most abundant type of cell in the central nervous system. In males however, testosterone increased signaling at receptors in the brain, which bind endocannabinoids, causing immune cells to be activated. The endocannabinoids prompted the immune cells to effectively eliminate the newborn cells in males. Females rats in the study were unaffected, suggesting that the activation of the immune cells by the increased endocannabinoids in males was necessary for cell elimination. In this respect, this research shows that cannabis use, which stimulates endocannabinoids in the brain and nervous system, could impact brain development of the fetus and this impact could differ between male and female fetuses.
This study provides a mechanism for sex-based differences in social behaviors and suggests that differences in androgen and endocannabinoid signaling may contribute to individual differences in brain development and thus behavioral differences among people.
“These discoveries into brain development are critical as we work to tackle brain disorders as early in life as possible, even in pregnancy,” said UMSOM Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, who is also the Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Maryland, and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor.
This research was funded by NIH, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates, and BranchOut Neurological Foundation.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world — with 43 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs; and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished recipient of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic and clinically based care for more than 1.2 million patients each year. The School has over 2,500 students, residents, and fellows, and more than $530 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total workforce of nearly 7,000 individuals. The combined School and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of nearly $6 billion and an economic impact more than $15 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine faculty, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity, is an innovator in translational medicine, with 600 active patents and 24 start-up companies. The School works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu
CONTACT
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Contact Media Relations
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Joanne Morrison
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University of Maryland School of Medicine
jmorrison@som.umaryland.edu
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Mobile: (202) 841-3369

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country because too many social engineers are advocating that there is no difference between cognitive and behavior of the genders. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/jonathan-cohns-the-two-year-window/

Related:

Study: Gender behavior differences lead to higher grades for girls
https://drwilda.com/2013/01/07/study-gender-behavior-differences-lead-to-higher-grades-for-girls/

Girls and math phobia
https://drwilda.com/2012/01/20/girls-and-math-phobia/

University of Missouri study: Counting ability predicts future math ability of preschoolers
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/15/university-of-missouri-study-counting-ability-predicts-future-math-ability-of-preschoolers/

Is an individualized program more effective in math learning?
https://drwilda.com/2012/10/10/is-an-individualized-program-more-effective-in-math-learning/

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