It is of considerable scientific, medical, and societal interest to understand the developmental origins of differences between male and female brains. Here we report the use of advances in MR imaging and analysis to accurately measure global, lobe and millimetre scale growth trajectory patterns over 18 gestational weeks in normal pregnancies with repeated measures. Statistical modelling of absolute growth trajectories revealed underlying differences in many measures, potentially reflecting overall body size differences. However, models of relative growth accounting for global measures revealed a complex temporal form, with strikingly similar cortical development in males and females at lobe scales. In contrast, local cortical growth patterns and larger scale white matter volume and surface measures differed significantly between male and female. Many proportional differences were maintained during neurogenesis and over 18 weeks of growth. These indicate sex related sculpting of neuroanatomy begins early in development, before cortical folding, potentially influencing postnatal development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)