Brain anatomy of dyslexia is not the same in men and women, boys and girls

May 8, 2013

Using MRI, neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center found significant differences in brain anatomy when comparing men and women with dyslexia to their non-dyslexic control groups, suggesting that the disorder may have a different brain-based manifestation based on sex.

Their study, investigating dyslexia in both , is the first to directly compare of females with and without dyslexia (in children and adults). Their findings were published online in the journal Brain Structure and Function.

Because dyslexia is two to three times more prevalent in males compared with females, "females have been overlooked," says senior author Guinevere Eden, PhD, director for the Center for the Study of Learning and past-president of the International Dyslexia Association.

"It has been assumed that results of studies conducted in men are generalizable to both sexes. But our research suggests that researchers need to tackle dyslexia in each sex separately to address questions about its origin and potentially, treatment," Eden says.

Previous work outside of dyslexia demonstrates that male and female brains are different in general, adds the study's lead author, Tanya Evans, PhD.

"There is sex-specific variance in brain anatomy and females tend to use both hemispheres for , while males just the left," Evans says. "It is also known that sex hormones are related to brain anatomy and that female sex hormones such as estrogen can be protective after , suggesting another avenue that might lead to the sex-specific findings reported in this study."

The study of 118 participants compared the brain structure of people with dyslexia to those without and was conducted separately in men, women, boys and girls. In the males, less gray matter volume is found in dyslexics in areas of the brain used to process language, consistent with previous work. In the females, less volume is found in dyslexics in areas involved in sensory and motor processing.

The results have important implications for understanding the origin of dyslexia and the relationship between language and sensory processing, says Evans.

Explore further: Language protein differs in males, females

Related Stories

Language protein differs in males, females

February 19, 2013

Male rat pups have more of a specific brain protein associated with language development than females, according to a study published February 20 in The Journal of Neuroscience. The study also found sex differences in the ...

Dyslexia caused by signal processing in the brain

August 7, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- To participate successfully in life, it is important to be able to read and write. Nevertheless, many children and adults have difficulties in acquiring these skills and the reason is not always obvious. ...

Brain MRIs may provide an early diagnostic marker for dyslexia

January 23, 2012

Children at risk for dyslexia show differences in brain activity on MRI scans even before they begin learning to read, finds a study at Children's Hospital Boston. Since developmental dyslexia responds to early intervention, ...

Recommended for you

Rat brain atlas provides MR images for stereotaxic surgery

October 21, 2016

Boris Odintsov, senior research scientist at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Thomas Brozoski, research professor ...

Imaging technique maps serotonin activity in living brains

October 20, 2016

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that's partly responsible for feelings of happiness and for mood regulation in humans. This makes it a common target for antidepressants, which block serotonin from being reabsorbed by neurons ...

Overcoming egocentricity increases self-control

October 19, 2016

Neurobiological models of self-control usually focus on brain mechanisms involved in impulse control and emotion regulation. Recent research at the University of Zurich shows that the mechanism for overcoming egocentricity ...

Exercise may help ward off memory decline

October 19, 2016

Exercise may be associated with a small benefit for elderly people who already have memory and thinking problems, according to new research published in the October 19, 2016, online issue of Neurology, a medical journal of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.