How the brain develops in the womb and in early infancy may determine many characteristics of a person. While we may like to think that both sexes are equal in most ways, there are many difference also. This study describes a link between sex, exercise and weight loss.
Healthcare practitioners regularly prescribe diet and exercise as a method for patients to lose weight. But exercise might not be equally effective in males and females, according to new research. In a study conducted in rats, researchers fed both male and female rats a high fat diet and then trained half of them to run on a treadmill.
Nutrition Research News — ScienceDaily
Sex Differences in the Brain
And, here is a description of research into the male and female brains. It shows how different parts of the brain develop when exposes to hormones in the womb and later. While the major factor described here are hormones, the nutrient intake of the mother is also a factor in the development of the body of the pre-born baby.
Everyone knows and agrees that men and women are different, they look different, dress different, behave different and often seem to think different.
What is not agreed upon is why this is so.
Is it societal expectations, parental guidance, biological determinism, genetics or some combination thereof? And the answer to the question is not important for mere curiosity, it is fundamental to major issues such as educational policies, health care, job equity and more. Parsing out the contributing role of each variable is exceedingly difficult in humans where we cannot conduct experiments or control for experience and environment. However, in animals we can do exactly that, and we can thereby determine how much nature versus nurture influences the establishment, maintenance and functional significance of sex differences in the brain.
The next great challenge is to then determine how what we find in animals applies to humans, and perhaps more importantly, how it doesn’t. Sex differences in the brain come in many sizes, shapes and forms. The most robust differences between males and females are not surprisingly those directly relevant to reproduction. The neural underpinnings controlling sex behavior and control of gonadal function are establishing during a developmental sensitive period by the differential hormonal milieu found in males versus females.
Considerable advances have been made in identifying the cellular mechanisms of early organizational effects of testosterone and its metabolite estradiol, which then determine adult physiology and behavior. These mechanisms are highly brain region specific and impact on cell death, axonal projections and synaptogenesis, resulting in a brain that combines varying degrees of maleness and femaleness.
The study of reproductive endpoints is valid in its own right but also provides insight into the more subtle sex differences associated with cognition, emotionality, social behavior and relative risk of neurological disorders and diseases of mental health.