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Article

A Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents

1
Child and Youth Psychiatry Division, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON M6J 1H4, Canada
2
Brain Health Imaging Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON M5T 1R8, Canada
3
Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 1R8, Canada
4
Cerebral Imaging Centre, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, QC H4H 1R3, Canada
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Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 1A1, Canada
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Department of Biological and Biomedical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 2B4, Canada
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Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada
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The Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health, Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, and Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON M6J 1H4, Canada
9
Department of Psychiatry and Autism Research Unit, the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada
10
Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 8AH, UK
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Department of Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital and College of Medicine, Taipei 100229, Taiwan
12
Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3H2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Co-senior authors.
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(2), 345; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10020345
Received: 30 November 2020 / Revised: 20 December 2020 / Accepted: 23 December 2020 / Published: 18 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Substrates of Gender Incongruence)
Gender dysphoria (GD) is characterized by distress due to an incongruence between experienced gender and sex assigned at birth. Sex-differentiated brain regions are hypothesized to reflect the experienced gender in GD and may play a role in sexual orientation development. Magnetic resonance brain images were acquired from 16 GD adolescents assigned female at birth (AFAB) not receiving hormone therapy, 17 cisgender girls, and 14 cisgender boys (ages 12–17 years) to examine three morphological and microstructural gray matter features in 76 brain regions: surface area (SA), cortical thickness (CT), and T1 relaxation time. Sexual orientation was represented by degree of androphilia-gynephilia and sexual attraction strength. Multivariate analyses found that cisgender boys had larger SA than cisgender girls and GD AFAB. Shorter T1, reflecting denser, macromolecule-rich tissue, correlated with older age and stronger gynephilia in cisgender boys and GD AFAB, and with stronger attractions in cisgender boys. Thus, cortical morphometry (mainly SA) was related to sex assigned at birth, but not experienced gender. Effects of experienced gender were found as similarities in correlation patterns in GD AFAB and cisgender boys in age and sexual orientation (mainly T1), indicating the need to consider developmental trajectories and sexual orientation in brain studies of GD. View Full-Text
Keywords: gender dysphoria; cortical thickness; cortical surface area; T1 relaxometry; sexual orientation; adolescence; brain development; brain tissue microstructure; partial least squares; structural MRI gender dysphoria; cortical thickness; cortical surface area; T1 relaxometry; sexual orientation; adolescence; brain development; brain tissue microstructure; partial least squares; structural MRI
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MDPI and ACS Style

Skorska, M.N.; Chavez, S.; Devenyi, G.A.; Patel, R.; Thurston, L.T.; Lai, M.-C.; Zucker, K.J.; Chakravarty, M.M.; Lobaugh, N.J.; VanderLaan, D.P. A Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 345. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10020345

AMA Style

Skorska MN, Chavez S, Devenyi GA, Patel R, Thurston LT, Lai M-C, Zucker KJ, Chakravarty MM, Lobaugh NJ, VanderLaan DP. A Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2021; 10(2):345. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10020345

Chicago/Turabian Style

Skorska, Malvina N., Sofia Chavez, Gabriel A. Devenyi, Raihaan Patel, Lindsey T. Thurston, Meng-Chuan Lai, Kenneth J. Zucker, M. M. Chakravarty, Nancy J. Lobaugh, and Doug P. VanderLaan. 2021. "A Multi-Modal MRI Analysis of Cortical Structure in Relation to Gender Dysphoria, Sexual Orientation, and Age in Adolescents" Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, no. 2: 345. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10020345

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