Sex differences in the cerebral function associated with processing of aversive stimuli by schizophrenia patients

Adrianna Mendrek, Adham Mancini-Marië, Cherine Fahim, Emmanuel Stip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Impaired processing of various emotions is considered one of the fundamental features of schizophrenia. In the recent study intriguing sex differences were observed in the cerebral function associated with the experience of sadness in schizophrenia patients. The aim of the present study was to explore this phenomenon during exposure to aversive stimuli. Method: Fifteen men and 10 women with the DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while viewing alternating blocks of negative and neutral pictures. Data were analysed using random-effects model within statistical parametric mapping (SPM99) software. Results: Processing of negative stimuli evoked significantly greater activations in men in the thalamus, cerebellum, temporal, occipital and posterior cingulate cortex, while women exhibited greater activations in the left middle frontal gyrus. Conclusions: The sex differences in the cerebral activations in schizophrenia patients deviate from what has been observed in the general population during exposure and experience of negative affect. As such the present study supports and extends the authors' preliminary observation of the anomalous sexual dimorphism in schizophrenia at the functional neuroanatomical level, suggesting potential masculinization of female subjects and feminization of male subjects with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion processing
  • Functional MRI
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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