Sex effects on cortical morphological networks in healthy young adults

Ruiyang Ge, Xiang Liu, David Long, Sophia Frangou, Fidel Vila-Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Understanding sex-related differences across the human cerebral cortex is an important step in elucidating the basis of psychological, behavioural and clinical differences between the sexes. Prior structural neuroimaging studies primarily focused on regional sex differences using univariate analyses. Here we focus on sex differences in cortical morphological networks (CMNs) derived using multivariate modelling of regional cortical measures of volume and surface from high-quality structural MRI scans from healthy participants in the Human Connectome Project (HCP) (n = 1,063) and the Southwest University Longitudinal Imaging Multimodal (SLIM) study (n = 549). The functional relevance of the CMNs was inferred using the NeuroSynth decoding function. Sex differences were widespread but not uniform. In general, females had higher volume, thickness and cortical folding in networks that involve prefrontal (both ventral and dorsal regions including the anterior cingulate) and parietal regions while males had higher volume, thickness and cortical folding in networks that primarily include temporal and posterior cortical regions. CMN loading coefficients were used as input features to linear discriminant analyses that were performed separately in the HCP and SLIM; sex was predicted with a high degree of accuracy (81%–85%) across datasets. The availability of behavioral data in the HCP enabled us to show that male-biased surface-based CMNs were associated with externalizing behaviors. These results extend previous literature on regional sex-differences by identifying CMNs that can reliably predict sex, are relevant to the expression of psychopathology and provide the foundation for the future investigation of their functional significance in clinical populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117945
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Cortical structure
  • Machine learning
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Morphology metrics
  • Sex
  • Structural brain networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex effects on cortical morphological networks in healthy young adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this