A new study finds a fundamental difference in the brains of girls and boys in a way you probably wouldn't expect.
There have always been fundamental differences between girls and boys and how their brains work, but one study shows a surprising additional difference: how they respond to trauma. The study, put out by Stanford University Medical Center, finds that the brains of girls and boys react in an opposite manner to a traumatic event, a finding that surprised scientists.
The researchers compared the size of the brain area called the anterior circular sulcus and found that it was larger among those who had symptoms of trauma in boys, but smaller in girls who had those symptoms. And that is despite the fact that in the control groups for both girls and boys who didn’t have trauma, the brain regions were about the same, according to a statement from the university.
Scientists think that traumatic stress may impact the rate of brain development in boys in a different way than it does in girls. However, much more research will need to be done to fully understand what is going on.
The study involved scanning the brains of 59 children between the ages of 9 and 17, with 29 children in the control group and 30 children in the group who had symptoms of trauma.
“The insula appears to play a key role in the development of PTSD,” said the study’s senior author, Victor Carrion, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. “The difference we saw between the brains of boys and girls who have experienced psychological trauma is important because it may help explain differences in trauma symptoms between sexes.”
“It is important that people who work with traumatized youth consider the sex differences,” said Megan Klabunde, PhD, the study’s lead author and an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “Our findings suggest it is possible that boys and girls could exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment.”