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Brain structural changes in women and men during midlife.

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Guo, JY 
Isohanni, M 
Miettunen, J 
Jääskeläinen, E 
Kiviniemi, V 


Brain development during childhood and adolescence differs between boys and girls. Structural changes continue during adulthood and old age, particularly in terms of brain volume reductions that accelerate beyond age 35 years. We investigated whether brain structural change in mid-life differs between men and women. 43 men and 28 women from the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort underwent MRI brain scans at age 33-35 (SD=0.67) and then again at age 42-44 (SD=0.41). We examined sex differences in total percentage brain volume change (PBVC) and regional brain change with FSL SIENA software. Women showed significant PBVC reduction compared with men between the ages of 33-35 and 42-44 years (Mean=-3.21% in men, Mean=-4.03% in women, F (1, 68)=6.37, p<0.05). In regional analyses, women exhibited greater brain reduction than men in widespread areas. After controlling for total percent brain volume change, men show greater relative regional brain reduction than women in bilateral precentral gyri, bilateral paracingulate gyri, and bilateral supplementary motor cortices. The results indicate sex differences in brain changes in mid-life. Women have more total brain reduction, and more reduction on the outer brain surface than men, whereas men exhibit more brain reduction on the mid-line surface than women after co-varying for total brain volume loss. These changes could contribute to sex differences in midlife behaviour and health.



Ageing, Gender difference, Longitudinal MRI, Sex differences, Sexual dimorphism, Adult, Age Factors, Brain, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Organ Size, Sex Factors

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Neurosci Lett

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Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (G0001354)
Medical Research Council (G1000183)
Medical Research Council (G0701911)
Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z)
Medical Research Council (G0701911/1)
The study was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (G0701911), the Academy of Finland, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Stanley Foundation, and the Brain and Behavior Research Fund, and was conducted in part within the University of Cambridge Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, supported by a joint award by the Medical Research Council (G1000183) and Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10Z). The funding bodies did not participate in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. We are grateful to Marianne Haapea for assistance with analysis.