Critical Brain Differences in Amygdala Could Explain Why Boys Have More Mental Disorders

RoseTracker| We’re surprised to learn that many mental health disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, are more common in males. The popular culture suggests that females are much more likely to suffer from mental dysfunctions. Not true, although women are more likely to be depressed.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have discovered gender-based differences in the amygdala region of the brain, responsible for emotional and social behaviors.

Specifically, Margaret M McCarthy, Ph.D senior author and a professor of physiology and psychiatry at Maryland says that in rats, the level of a natural substance called endocannabinoid affected rat behavior during playtime.

Dr. McCarthy and her colleagues found that female rats have about 30 to 50 percent more glial cells in the amygdala region of the temporal lobe of the brain than their male litter mates. They also found that the females had lower amounts of endocannabinoids, which have been dubbed the brain’s own marijuana because they activate cannabinoid receptors that are also stimulated by THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis. via Science Daily

The girl rats in the study played 30 to 40 percent less that the boy rats. However, when given a cannabis-like compound to stimulate their natural endocannabinoid system, their glial cell production decreased and they behaved like juveniles. Bottom line, they acted like boy rats.