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Gender inequality impacts women’s brains – Medicine

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Gender inequality impacts women’s brains – Medicine

Gender discrimination can cause damage to the female brain making women more prone to mood and anxiety disorders. In fact, stress is generated which fuels a state of neuroinflammation. This was reported by a recent multicenter study published in the journal Pnas, entitled ‘Gender inequality at the national level is associated with structural differences in the brains of women and men’. The study, coordinated by Washington University in St. Louis, included 29 countries. The people who took part in the research were healthy, both male and female, under 25 years of age and coming both from countries where discrimination against women is minimal or absent and from those where it is extreme.

7,876 MRIs were performed through which the brains of men and women were compared to evaluate any differences. In countries where there is no discrimination between the two sexes, the male and female brains are absolutely equal. When the researchers compared the brains of men and women in countries with strong gender discrimination, one difference was found: a thinning of the right hemisphere of the female brain, particularly in the anterior cingulate gyrus and orbitofrontal gyrus. The researchers justified their result both on the basis of stimuli and on that of nutrition.

“The development of the brain, in fact, is extremely sensitive to external stimuli and to reward – commented the neuroscientist Arianna Di Stadio, professor at the University of Catania and honorary researcher at the Neuroinflammation Laboratory of the UCL Queen Square Neurology in London -. The which means that every time you are complimented for an action well done, this increases both the desire to do and to do better to get a new reward. This action develops brain functions”. According to the neuroscientist, “on the contrary, stress, as demonstrated by recent studies from Harvard University, creates a condition of neuroinflammation that could explain the reduction in brain development. With the term neuroinflammation we refer to the excessive or incorrect activation of the response immune system of the brain. Microglia in particular is a cell of the brain’s immune system that can activate itself in a positive way by stimulating the growth of synapses (neuro-protective action) and in a negative way by causing the destruction of these synaptic connections; bad microglia can be inactivated with drugs so as to limit its neuroinflammatory effect.It is also true that through healthy lifestyle habits we can limit the activation of this bad microglia in favor of the good one so as to preserve brain functions for as long as possible. and excessive stress (including lack of sleep) induce microglia into its bad form. For this reason it can be assumed that gender discrimination, which creates anxiety, may also negatively affect brain development due to neuro-inflammation.”

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“Women who have been raised in families where they are valued, are more resistant and resilient, have high ambitions and are able to handle situations like men. Gender difference only becomes a problem if the two sexes are discriminated against. Obviously, the opportunities for improvement and growth will also depend on the subject’s attitudes, but as this study demonstrates, the differences between the male and female brains are non-existent if male and female children are subjected to the same stimuli from childhood”, concludes the expert.

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