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Posted by Annapaola Prestia Laboratory of Epidemiology Neuroimaging and Telemedicine, IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio FBF, The National Centre for Research and Care of Alzheimer’s and Mental Diseases, Brescia, Italy

In the present study, the authors include a representative middle-aged population within limited range of age (431 subjects, 184 male, 227 female of 44-48 years) and try to investigate its brain features using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). This neuroimaging technique permits to investigate sex-related differences in global as well as regional gray and white matter (GM and WM).
Previous studies find higher fractional WM in men and GM in women. The authors find sex dimorphism in regional but not in global GM. In particular, men showed more GM in many discrete regions distributed in temporal, occipital, brain stem and cerebellum, while women showed more GM mainly in limbic associated region such as cingulate cortex.
Previous studies suggest the hypothesis that in woman a smaller skull size is compensated by a relative increase in the somatodendritic tissue necessary for processing of information. Instead, finding regional rather than global GM volume differences, the present study suggests sex dimorphism in GM in middle aged healthy subject and then helps to explain sex differences in certain cognitive functions such as visuo-spatial and verbal memory, spatial orientation, language and motor skills.