A Literature Review of Sex Differences in fMRI tasks used in MTwiNS Study – UROP Summer Symposium 2021

A Literature Review of Sex Differences in fMRI tasks used in MTwiNS Study

Claire Goods

Claire Goods

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

UROP Fellowship: WAGSFP
Research Mentor(s): Luke Hyde, PhD
Research Mentor Institution/Department: College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Department of Psychology




In previous clinical studies, males and females complete the same tasks; however, only a subset of those studies focus on sex-based differences in task interaction (Uhl et. al. 2007). Failure to look at sex differences in outcome and response may lead to aggregation of sex-related responses, causing neither sex to be accurately characterized (Institute of Medicine 1994). This presentation reviews the existing literature on sex differences for the following fMRI decision based tasks: Wack-A-Mole go no-go, Emotional go no-go, Event Related and Gender Rated Faces, Blocked Faces vs. Shapes, MID Reward, and Card Reward. All of these tasks are done at the Michigan Neurogenetics and Developmental Psychopathology (MiND) lab for their twin study (MTwiNS). MTwiNS aims to understand how antisocial behaviors are expressed in the brain. Antisocial symptomatology is more often present and studied in males, leading to many questions about how females with antisocial behaviors may differ (P Moran 1999). One goal of reassessing previous interpretations of sex differences in study tasks is to refine evaluations of past and future study results. Previous sex differences found in fMRI task data may shed light on how current data should be analyzed and interpreted. Despite previous studies showing that females are better at identifying emotions, both the Whack-A-Mole and Emotional go no-go tasks yielded similar results regardless of gender (Timlinson et. al. 2020; Ramos-Loyo et. al. 2016; Sun et. al. 2010). However, brain activity differences were seen, specifically in the amygdala (Blanton et. al. 2013; Hare et. al 2008). The gender of the face stimuli the participant sees during the task differently affects how either sex responds, especially when interpreting sad faces (Schulz et. al. 2007). Both reward tasks also activate multiple different brain regions based on gender (Li et. al. 2020; Zheng et. al. 2020). This review contextualizes sex-related differences in integral fMRI tasks that may aid in future fMRI studies.

Blanton, Rebecca E, et al. “Sex Differences in the Correlation of Emotional Control and Amygdala Volumes in Adolescents.” Neuroreport, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Oct. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3654384/.
Hare, Todd A., et al. “Biological Substrates of Emotional Reactivity and Regulation in Adolescence During an Emotional Go-Nogo Task.” Biological Psychiatry, Elsevier, 29 Apr. 2008, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322308003594.
Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Ethical and Legal Issues Relating to the Inclusion of Women in Clinical Studies. “Social and Ethical Considerations.” Women and Health Research: Ethical and Legal Issues of Including Women in Clinical Studies: Volume I., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1994, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236534/.
Li, Guangfei, et al. “Neural Responses to Reward in a Gambling Task: Sex Differences and Individual Variation in Reward-Driven Impulsivity.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 19 June 2020, academic.oup.com/cercorcomms/article/1/1/tgaa025/5859883?login=true.
Moran, P. “The Epidemiology of Antisocial Personality Disorder.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Steinkopff Verlag, 1999, link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs001270050138.
Ramos-Loyo, Julieta, et al. “Sex Differences in Emotional Contexts Modulation on Response Inhibition.” Neuropsychologia, Pergamon, 24 Aug. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028393216303153.
Schulz, Kurt P., et al. “Does the Emotional Go/No-Go Task Really Measure Behavioral Inhibition?: Convergence with Measures on a Non-Emotional Analog.” Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, No Longer Published by Elsevier, 4 Jan. 2007, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887617706002010.
Sun, Yueting, et al. “Sex Differences in Face Gender Recognition: An Event-Related Potential Study.” Brain Research, Elsevier, 11 Feb. 2010, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899310003598.
Tomlinson, Rachel C., et al. “Neighborhood Poverty Predicts Altered Neural and Behavioral Response Inhibition.” NeuroImage, Academic Press, 11 Jan. 2020, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811920300239.
Uhl, K, et al. “Females in Clinical Studies: Where Are We Going?” American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 21 Feb. 2007, ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.clpt.6100112.
Zhang, Jialin, et al. “Males Are More Sensitive to Reward and Less Sensitive to Loss than Females among People with Internet Gaming Disorder: FMRI Evidence from a Card-Guessing Task.” BMC Psychiatry, BioMed Central, 7 July 2020, bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-020-02771-1.

Authors: Claire Goods, Luke Hyde
Research Method: Clinical Research

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