Understanding Gender Differences in Brain Development
Hilary Blumberg, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Diagnostic Radiology.
Certain mood disorders are more prevalent in women than in men. Women, for example, are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Dr. Blumberg’s work focuses on discovering the brain mechanisms in adolescent boys and girls that influence the development of mood disorders. This work has significant implications for gender-specific prevention and treatment of depression and manic-depression.
Highlighted Study Findings
In this study, supported in part by the Ethel F. Donaghue Women’s Health Investigator Program, Dr. Blumberg examined the brains of both adults and teenagers with and without bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness. She found that the size of the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions, was smaller in both teenagers and adults with bipolar disorder, compared to those who did not have bipolar disorder. This was one of the first studies to show brain differences in adolescents with mood disorders. And importantly, it demonstrated differences in the amygdala in association with adolescent mood disorders. By understanding such differences in the brain, scientists can tailor interventions to target these differences and improve treatment.