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Sex differences in brain organisation

Our studies provided also new information on sex differences in the functional brain organisation. They showed that lesions to the left and right hemispheres in the two sexes result in different perceptual deficits. This finding is in agreement with a hypothesis that male brains are more lateralised than female brains. Moreover, in line with anatomical observations of other authors, we have found that interhemispheric transmission time is shorter and shows lesser directional differentiation in women than in man. The studies on transsexual subjects provided further evidence that prenatal action of sex hormones may change both the brain lateralisation and gender identity.

The aim of our recent study was to test whether the organization of implicit memory processes depend on subjects’ sex. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the patterns of brain activity in men and women performing the weather prediction probabilistic classification task which is a tool for assessing implicit learning. Men and women showed similar levels of behavioral performance on this task. However, between-sex group analysis of the BOLD response demonstrated greater activity in men than in women in dorsolateral prefrontal (BA 9, 46), parietal (BA 7, 40), and occipital (BA 18, 19) cortices, and greater activity in women than in men in insular (BA 13), temporal (BA 21, 22) and ventrolateral prefrontal (BA 44) cortices. Differences between men and women in the patterns of brain activity might reflect distinct strategies used during performance of the weather prediction probabilistic classification task.


Pilacinski A., Wolak T., Grabowska A., Królicki L., Szatkowska I. Sex differences in implicit memory: An fMRI study using the Weather Prediction Probabilistic Classification Task. (poster presentation, 9th International Congress of The Polish Neuroscience Society, 2009

Rymarczyk K., Grabowska A. Sex differences in brain control of prosody. Neuropsychologia, 45(5): 921-930, 2007

Herman-Jeglińska A, Grabowska A, Dulko S. Masculinity, femininity and transsexualism. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31(6): 527-534, 2002

Grabowska A, Nowicka A, Szymańska O, Szatkowska I. Subjective contour illusion: sex-related effect of unilateral brain lesion. Neuroreport, 12: 2289-2292, 2001

Nowicka A, Fersten E. Sex-related differences in interhemispheric transmission time in the human brain. NeuroReport, 12: 4171-4175, 2001

Grabowska A, Nowicka A, Szymańska O. Sex related effect of unilateral brain lesions on the perception of the Mueller-Lyer illusion. Cortex , 35: 231-241, 1999

Herman-Jeglinska A, Dulko S, Grabowska A. Transsexuality and adextrality: do they share a common origin? In: L Ellis and L. Ebertz (Eds.) Sexual Orientation: Toward Biological Understanding. Praeger: Westport, pp: 164 – 180, 1997

Hines T.M, Herman-Jeglińska A, Bednarek D, Grabowska A. Sex differences in the processing of odd and even numbers. Acta Neurobiol. Exp., 56: 263-266, 1996


Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology (c) 2015