Is Dyslexia different in males and females?

Jumbled letters of dyslexiaA recent report, published online in the journal Brain Structure and Function, conducted by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center has questioned whether there exist sex differences between the brain anatomy of females with dyslexia and males with dyslexia.

118 men, women, girls and boys were used to compare the brain structure of people with dyslexia to those without. In findings consistent with previous research, male dyslexics showed less gray matter volume in areas of the brain used to process language. In female dyslexics less gray matter volume was found in areas involved in sensory and motor processing. The results have potentially important implications for our understanding of how dyslexia originates and the relationship between sensory processing and language development.

It also echoes previous neuroscience studies in fields other than dyslexia which have demonstrated that male and female brains are generally different in terms of their anatomy. However, in the field of dyslexia this seems to be the first study which has directly compared the brain anatomy of females with dyslexia and females without dyslexia in both children and adults. The researchers used MRI techniques and demonstrated significant differences when comparing men and women with dyslexia to non-dyslexic control groups. The researchers suggest that the disorder may have a different brain-based manifestation based on sex.

As previous studies have generally focused on males with dyslexia – partly because dyslexia is about three times more frequent in males than females – senior author Guinevere Eden, PhD, a  former president of the International Dyslexia Association said that “it has been assumed that results of studies conducted in men are generalizable to both sexes. But our research suggests that researchers need to tackle dyslexia in each sex separately to address questions about its origin and potentially, treatment”.

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