Dr. Weeks’ Comment: brains, like much of the human anatomy develop differently in the male vs the female of the species. Gender and its effect on brain structure and thought process can manifest symptoms of schizophrenia differently in male vs female. Hmmm…
Disturbed sexual dimorphism of brain activation during mental rotation in schizophrenia
Received 7 January 2010; received in revised form 5 March 2010; accepted 8 March 2010. published online 13 April 2010.
Sex differences in visuo-spatial abilities have been well documented in the general population, but there are only a few inconsistent reports in schizophrenia. The purpose of the present study was to examine potential sex differences in performance and pattern of brain activations during mental rotation in schizophrenia patients relative to control participants.
Thirty three schizophrenia patients (17 women and 16 men) were compared to thirty five healthy control participants (17 women and 18 men), while performing a classic mental rotation task (3-D figures). Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) echo-planar images were acquired on a 3-Tesla Siemens TRIO system. Random-effect analyses were performed using SPM5 (UK Wellcome Institute).
Behavioural data revealed a diagnosis-by-sex interaction with healthy men (HM) performing significantly better than schizophrenia men (SZ-M) and no significant difference between healthy women (HW) and schizophrenia women (SZ-W). fMRI results revealed an overall similar pattern of extensive cerebral activations (in the parietal and lateral prefrontal cortex) and deactivations (in the medial prefrontal cortex) in HM and SZ-W during performance of the mental rotation versus control task. In contrast, both HW and SZ-M showed much more restricted activations and no significant deactivations.
Sex differences in performance and cerebral activations during mental rotation in schizophrenia patients deviated significantly from what we observed in healthy volunteers. This finding supports and extends existing evidence of a disturbed sexual dimorphism in schizophrenia. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of including both sexes in neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies of schizophrenia.
Centre de Recherche Fernand-Seguin and Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada
Corresponding author. Department of Psychiatry, Université de Montréal, Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, 7331 Hochelaga, Montreal (QC), Canada H1N 3V2. Tel.: +1 514 251 4015×3528; fax: +1 514 251 2617.