“These results may have important implications for neuropsychiatric disorders with adolescent onset and strong gender disparities such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia,” said Theodore Satterthwaite, a professor at University of Pennsylvania.
In general, females have a higher prevalence of anxiety and depression and in males higher prevalence of schizophrenia, Satterthwaite explained.
For the study, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to analyse the development of brain blood flow in 922 young people between ages eight and 22 to find out when such sex changes emerge.
The study found the areas of a girl’s brain that saw the highest increase in blood flow was that which deals with emotions and controls social situations.
“The parts of the brain that saw the highest difference of blood flow were in parts of the brain associated with higher cognitive functions,” Satterthwaite added.
The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.