Brain Feminization of males with schizophrenia?
I don’t really know what to make of Mendrek’s results as discussed in this article that claim to have discovered “masculinization” of females and “feminization” of males with schizophrenia (at least at the neuroanatomical level).
The study, that used emotive film clips and fMRI to find the pattern of activation on watching emotional stimulation in a schizophrenic population, did not have any normal controls. Thus, while the fact that their results showed greater activation in Males as compared to females may be true, they do not tell us how this is related to the activation in normal population? Are schizophrenic in general more emotional than baseline normal people or less emotional is not clear. It is presumed that the baseline normal activity falls midway from what was observed in males and females and thus males more feminized while females more masculanized.
I also do not know how to integrate this finding with my framework that sees Autism and Schizophrenia/ psychosis as opposite ends of spectrum. If we juts limit our discussion to Males, then everything seems fine. Autism is the ‘extreme male brain’ theory while schizophrenia in males is ‘feminization’ of Masculine brain. but what when we extend the ambit to cover females. should one posit that schizophrenia is characterized by movement away from gender based brain development; while Autism is characterized by movement towards gender specific brain development. In this case one would conclude that female autistics were an extreme female brain. I don’t like this argument as there seems scarce evidence for that. I would instead argue that even females in Schizophrenia are more feminized and this may have to do with the imprinting genes that we have discussed earlier. If the evidence was there that both males and females are more feminized in schizophrenia, life would be simple. Let me know what you think in comments and of any evidence you may be aware of.
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