Share this article:


  • Join our comunity:

Sexual Differentiation of the Brain: A Fresh Look

By: , Posted on: March 22, 2017

Male Female brain

It is now over 55 years since publication of the seminal Phoenix, Goy, Gerall, and Young manuscript (Phoenix et al., 1959), an influential paper in which four scientists articulated the organizational hypothesis of hormonally controlled sexual differentiation of the brain. For many years the quest to understand how the brain differed in males and females and led to sex differences in physiology and behavior was the exclusive domain of scientists self-identifying as ‘neuroendocrinologists’ or ‘behavioral endocrinologists.’ This is beginning to change as major grant funding agencies in the United States, Canada, and Europe are increasingly requiring the inclusion of both male and female subjects in preclinical or basic science research. The result is a growing awareness combined with a burgeoning knowledge base of the pervasive impact of sex on the brain and its myriad functions.

The goal of this chapter is to explore what we have learned in the years hence. We first list 10 concepts that have stood the test of time and can safely be considered ‘known.’ The last of these is our view of what we consider the four core cellular processes that may be influenced by steroids during sexual differentiation of the brain: (1) cell birth, (2) cell death, (3) cell migration, and (4) the differentiation of circuits. The current challenge in the field is to identify the mechanisms by which steroids alter these four core processes, and a substantial portion of this chapter is devoted to recent advances in that domain. Progress is being made, but much remains to be done. Moreover, there are fundamental questions remaining, and we conclude this chapter by highlighting several of these. Continue reading the chapter by clicking the link below and filling out a brief form:

Chapter Download: Sexual Differentiation of the Brain: A Fresh Look at Mode, Mechanisms, and Meaning

hormones brain and behavior

Hormones, Brain and Behavior, Third Edition offers a state-of-the-art overview of hormonally-mediated behaviors, including an extensive discussion of the effects of hormones on insects, fish, amphibians, birds, rodents, and humans. Entries have been carefully designed to provide a valuable source of information for students and researchers in neuroendocrinology and those working in related areas, such as biology, psychology, psychiatry, and neurology.

This third edition has been substantially restructured to include both foundational information and recent developments in the field. Continuing the emphasis on interdisciplinary research and practical applications, the book includes articles aligned in five main subject sections, with new chapters included on genetic and genomic techniques and clinical investigations.

To access more chapters, visit ScienceDirect today!


The scientific study of the nervous system is entering a new golden age. Researchers and clinicians continue to advance the treatment of conditions such as Alzheimer’s syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Public initiatives like the federal Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) program in the United States, announced in April 2013, ensure that funding and resources will continue to be applied to this rapidly growing field. Elsevier’s journals, books, eBooks, online references, and tools are respected around the world for everything from physiology and pathology to behavioral genetics and nerve repair. Our publications are a gateway to the latest advancements in neuroscience research and leading-edge data for professionals, students, and academics alike.