Differences in Brain Development Between Males and Females May Hold Clues to Mental Health Disorders

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Many mental health disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, produce changes in social behavior or interactions. The frequency and/or severity of these disorders is substantially greater in boys than girls, but the biological basis for this difference between the two sexes is unknown.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered differences in the development of the amygdala region of the brain — which is critical to the expression of emotional and social behaviors — in animal models that may help to explain why some mental health disorders are more prevalent among boys. They also found a surprising variable — a difference between males and females in the level of endocannabinoid, a natural substance in the brain that affected their behavior, specifically how they played…..

Reported by ScienceDaily
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Maryland Medical Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101117121809.htm

Journal Reference: Desiree L. Krebs-Kraft, Matthew N. Hill, Cecilia J. Hillard, and Margaret M. Mccarthy. Sex difference in cell proliferation in developing rat amygdala mediated by endocannabinoids has implications for social behavior. PNAS, November 8, 2010 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.100500310

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