Sex is a fundamentally important biological variable. Recent years have seen significant progress in the integration of sex in many aspects of basic and clinical research, including analyses of sex differences in brain function. Significant advances in the technology available for studying the endocrine and nervous systems are now coupled with a more sophisticated awareness of the interconnections of these two communication systems of the body. A thorough understanding of the current knowledge, conceptual approaches, methodological capabilities, and challenges is a prerequisite to continued progress in research and therapeutics in this interdisciplinary area.
Sex Differences in the Brain provides scientists with the basic tools for investigating sex differences in brain and behavior and insight into areas where important progress in understanding physiologically relevant sex differences has already been made. This book was edited and co-authored by members of the Isis Fund Network on Sex, Gender, Drugs and the Brain, sponsored by the Society for Womens Health Research.
The book is arranged in three parts. The first part of the book introduces the study of sex differences in the brain, with an overview of how the brain, stress systems, and pharmacogenetics differ in males and females and how this information is important for the study of behavior and neurobiology of both genders. The second part presents examples of sex differences in neurobiology and behavior from both basic and clinical research perspectives, covering both humans and nonhuman animals. The final part discusses sex differences in the neurobiology of disease and neurological disorders.
For interested individuals as well as those who are considering conducting research at the intersections of endocrinology, neuroscience, and other areas of biomedicine, the study of sex differences offers exciting and challenging questions and perspectives. This book is intended as a guide and resource for clinicians, scientists, and students.
Reviewer:Christopher J. Graver, PhD(Madigan Army Medical Center)
Description:There are many known differences in the brain between men and women, but how these differences relate to behaviors, disorders, and diseases remains unclear. This book attempts to shed light on the subject.
Purpose:The purpose is to bring to together leading researchers in sex differences to explore sex as a factor in the development and function of human biology and to contribute to the understanding of health and human disease.
Audience:The intended audience appears to be behavioral neuroscientists, psychologists, and medical professionals. It would also be appropriate for students in these disciplines. The editors and contributing authors are well known in the field and have many publications as well as awards for their scholarly contributions.
Features:The book begins with an interesting look at the development of sex differences from an evolutionary and genetic perspective. This is followed by chapters addressing methodological approaches and issues in this field. A discussion of the use of pharmacogenomics as tools for studying CNS disorders largely includes psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, major depression, and anorexia. There is also a chapter on HPA axis regulation. The book then progresses into chapters involving the relationship between neurobiology and behavior, covering topics like social bonding, motivation, cognitive function, and neuroplasticity. The final section surveys sex differences in the neurobiology of disease. An informative chapter on disease susceptibility covers several topics, such as genes, hormones, autoimmune diseases, and infectious disease. The content is generally well organized into major and minor headings. The chapters tend to be relatively concise, so reading one should not take more than an hour. A moderate number of tables and figures are found throughout the book, but the print quality of some figures is less than satisfactory (e.g., neuroimaging).
Assessment:It is refreshing, as we drown in our politically correct culture, to see authors discourse on the neurobiology of sex differences as a scientific rather than social entity. The book is quite informative on a number of topics and the information is generally up to date. Some chapters with basic science concepts (e.g., genetics and endocrinology) may be a bit advanced for some readers, but there are sure to be many other topics of interest.