Male and female brains react differently to stress

Stressed out people - Sakshi Post

New York: Offering new evidence to show that male and
female brains are wired differently, new research has found that a brain region
involved with stress and keeping heart rate and blood pressure high work
differently in men and women.

While measuring
brain activity with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during blood pressure
trials, the researchers found that men and women had opposite responses in the
right front of the insular cortex, a part of the brain integral to the
experience of emotions, blood pressure control and self-awareness.

The insular
cortex has five main parts called gyri serving different roles. The researchers
found that the blood pressure response in the front right gyrus showed an
opposite pattern in men and women, with men showing a greater right-sided
activation in the area while the women showed a lower response.

“This is
such a critical brain area and we hadn’t expected to find such strong
differences between men and women’s brains,” said the study’s lead author
Paul Macey from University of California, Los Angeles.

This region,
the front-right insula, is involved with stress and keeping heart rate and
blood pressure high.

“It’s
possible the women had already activated this region because of psychological
stress, so that when they did the physical test in the study, the brain region
could not activate any more. However, it’s also possible that this region is
wired differently in men and women,”
Macey noted.

The study was
published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. “We have always thought
that the ‘normal’ pattern was for this right-front insula region to activate
more than other areas, during a task that raises blood pressure,” added
Macey.

“However,
since earlier studies were in men or male animals, it looks like this ‘normal’
response was only in men. The healthy response in women seems to be a lower
right-sided activation,” he noted.

“We
believe that differences in the structure and function of the insula in men and
women might contribute to different clinical symptoms in some medical
disorders,” Macey said.


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