Sex steroids and connectivity in the human brain: a review of neuroimaging studies.
ABSTRACT Our brain operates by the way of interconnected networks. Connections between brain regions have been extensively studied at a functional and structural level, and impaired connectivity has been postulated as an important pathophysiological mechanism underlying several neuropsychiatric disorders. Yet the neurobiological mechanisms contributing to the development of functional and structural brain connections remain to be poorly understood. Interestingly, animal research has convincingly shown that sex steroid hormones (estrogens, progesterone and testosterone) are critically involved in myelination, forming the basis of white matter connectivity in the central nervous system. To get insights, we reviewed studies into the relation between sex steroid hormones, white matter and functional connectivity in the human brain, measured with neuroimaging. Results suggest that sex hormones organize structural connections, and activate the brain areas they connect. These processes could underlie a better integration of structural and functional communication between brain regions with age. Specifically, ovarian hormones (estradiol and progesterone) may enhance both cortico-cortical and subcortico-cortical functional connectivity, whereas androgens (testosterone) may decrease subcortico-cortical functional connectivity but increase functional connectivity between subcortical brain areas. Therefore, when examining healthy brain development and aging or when investigating possible biological mechanisms of 'brain connectivity' diseases, the contribution of sex steroids should not be ignored.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Inhibitory control and sensitivity to reward are relevant to the food choices individuals make frequently. An imbalance of these systems can lead to deficits in decision-making that are relevant to food ingestion. This study evaluated the relationship between dietary behaviors - binge eating and consumption of sweetened beverages and snacks - and behavioral control processes, among 198 ethnically diverse adolescents, ranging in age from 14 to 17, in Southern California. Neurocognitive control processes were assessed with the Iowa Gambling Task, a generic Go/No-Go task, and a food-specific Go/No-Go task. The food-specific Go/No-Go task directly ties the task to food cues that trigger responses, addressing an integral link between cue-habit processes. Dietary measures were assessed with self-administered food frequency and binge eating questionnaires. Results of latent variable models revealed marked gender differences. Inhibitory problems on the food-specific and generic Go/No-Go tasks were significantly correlated with binge eating only in females, whereas inhibitory problems measured with these tasks were the strongest correlates of sweet snack consumption in males. Higher BMI percentile and sedentary behavior also predicted binge eating in females and sweet snack consumption in males. Inhibitory problems on the generic Go/No-Go, poorer affective decision-making, assessed with the Iowa Gambling Task, and sedentary behavior were associated with sweetened beverage consumption in males, but not females. The food-specific Go/No-Go was not predictive in models evaluating sweetened beverage consumption, providing some initial discriminant validity for the task, which consisted of sweet/fatty snacks as no-go signals and no sugar-sweetened beverage signals. This research extends other study findings, revealing gender differences in inhibitory function relevant to behavioral control. Further, the findings contribute to research implicating the relevance of cues in habitual behaviors and their relationship to snack food consumption in an understudied population of diverse adolescents not receiving treatment for obesity or eating disorders.Appetite 06/2014; · 2.52 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Previous neuroimaging studies demonstrated sex and also sexual orientation related structural and functional differences in the human brain. Genetic information and effects of sex hormones are assumed to contribute to the male/female differentiation of the brain, and similar effects could play a role in processes influencing human's sexual orientation. However, questions about the origin and development of a person's sexual orientation remain unanswered, and research on sexual orientation related neurobiological characteristics is still very limited. To contribute to a better understanding of the neurobiology of sexual orientation, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in order to compare regional cortical thickness (Cth) and subcortical volumes of homosexual men (hoM), heterosexual men (heM) and heterosexual women (heW). hoM (and heW) had thinner cortices primarily in visual areas and smaller thalamus volumes than heM, in which hoM and heW did not differ. Our results support previous studies, which suggest cerebral differences between hoM and heM in regions, where sex differences have been reported, which are frequently proposed to underlie biological mechanisms. Thus, our results contribute to a better understanding of the neurobiology of sexual orientation.PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e114721. · 3.53 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Puberty is the defining biological process of adolescent development, yet its effects on fundamental properties of brain physiology such as cerebral blood flow (CBF) have never been investigated. Capitalizing on a sample of 922 youths ages 8-22 y imaged using arterial spin labeled MRI as part of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, we studied normative developmental differences in cerebral perfusion in males and females, as well as specific associations between puberty and CBF. Males and females had conspicuously divergent nonlinear trajectories in CBF evolution with development as modeled by penalized splines. Seventeen brain regions, including hubs of the executive and default mode networks, showed a robust nonlinear age-by-sex interaction that surpassed Bonferroni correction. Notably, within these regions the decline in CBF was similar between males and females in early puberty and only diverged in midpuberty, with CBF actually increasing in females. Taken together, these results delineate sex-specific growth curves for CBF during youth and for the first time to our knowledge link such differential patterns of development to the effects of puberty.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
Jiska S Peper