A meta-analysis of sex differences in human brain structure.08 Aug 2017
The prevalence, age of onset, and symptomatology of many neuropsychiatric conditions differ between males and females. To understand the causes and consequences of sex differences it is important to establish where they occur in the human brain. We report the first meta-analysis of typical sex differences on global brain volume, a descriptive account of the breakdown of studies of each compartmental volume by six age categories, and whole-brain voxel-wise meta-analyses on brain volume and density. Gaussian-process regression coordinate-based meta-analysis was used to examine sex differences in voxel-based regional volume and density. On average, males have larger total brain volumes than females. Examination of the breakdown of studies providing total volumes by age categories indicated a bias towards the 18-59 year-old category. Regional sex differences in volume and tissue density include the amygdala, hippocampus and insula, areas known to be implicated in sex-biased neuropsychiatric conditions. Together, these results suggest candidate regions for investigating the asymmetric effect that sex has on the developing brain, and for understanding sex-biased neurological and psychiatric conditions.