Sign up FAST! Login

Neuroscientists found an intrinsic biological difference between men and women in the molecular regulation of synapses in the hippocampus.

Stashed in: Women, Best PandaWhale Posts, Science!, Medicine, XX, Brain, Stroke, Interesting Tidbits

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

This finding should allow for improvement of some medications.

Male and female brains operate differently at a molecular level, a Northwestern University research team reports in a new study of a brain region involved in learning and memory, responses to stress and epilepsy.

Many brain disorders vary between the sexes, but how biology and culture contribute to these differences has been unclear. Now Northwestern neuroscientists have found an intrinsic biological difference between males and females in the molecular regulation of synapses in the hippocampus. This provides a scientific reason to believe that female and male brains may respond differently to drugs targeting certain synaptic pathways.

“The importance of studying sex differences in the brain is about making biology and medicine relevant to everyone, to both men and women,” said Catherine S. Woolley, senior author of the study. “It is not about things such as who is better at reading a map or why more men than women choose to enter certain professions.”

Among their findings, the scientists found that a drug called URB-597, which regulates a molecule important in neurotransmitter release, had an effect in females that it did not have in males. While the study was done in rats, it has broad implications for humans because this drug and others like it are currently being tested in clinical trials in humans.

“Our study starts to put some specifics on what types of molecular differences there are in male and female brains,” Woolley said.

Do I want to click through on a Reddit link about intrinsic differences between male and female brains? NOT TODAY!!!

This is the science subreddit. 

They're much less prone to colorful language than average Redditors. 

I would like to see this study done on transsexuals for obvious reasons.  It would be interesting to say the least.

I'm guessing they'd find out exactly what you think they'd find out. 

But that's just a hypothesis. We need more science!

Potentially important work published in a prestigious journal. As a student of brain injury, I am intrigued by the report that estrogen receptors can modulate signaling by glutamate receptors independently of glutamate itself. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter most commonly recognized to mediate "excitotoxic" damage to the brain following injuries produced by stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Glutamate has even been implicated in neurodenerative diseases. Over the past twenty years there have been efforts to develop therapies based on the "excitotoxic hypothesis", and I have been involved in some of this research. However, like every clinical trial to treat TBI, these therapies failed possibly for reasons unrelated to the therapeutic efficacy of the compounds (the subject of a separate discussion).  Gender differences in the brain's response to acute insults are incompletely understood, and this study should provide an important impetus to more rigorously explore these differences.


ronald hayes

Ron, thank you for that perspective. I do hope scientists rigorously explore these differences!

I wonder if this also will provide information on why women suffer from migraines at a higher rate than men.

Entirely possible. It's now clear that there are biological brain differences that warrant further study.

You May Also Like: