Puberty changes the brain in sex-specific ways

New neuroimaging-based research at the University of Southern California has shown how, over time, the developing pubescent brain changes in distinct ways between boys and girls.

The findings are running in the July edition of Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Megan Herting, PhD, Elizabeth Sowell, PhD, and colleagues used diffusion tensor MRI to examine white matter microstructure changes in 18 boys and 15 girls over a two-year period within pubescence.

They found that pubertal changes in the body—including sex-specific changes related to gonadal and adrenal development—predicted patterns of changes in white matter regions.

“These findings support a larger body of emerging research suggesting that, beyond age, pubertal processes may also contribute to neurodevelopmental trajectories in boys and girls,” the authors write.