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Logo of biosexdiffBioMed CentralBiomed Central Web Sitesearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBiology of Sex DifferencesJournal Front Page
 
Biol Sex Differ. 2012; 3: 12.
Published online May 28, 2012. doi:  10.1186/2042-6410-3-12
PMCID: PMC3464926
Turning sex inside-out: Peripheral contributions to sexual differentiation of the central nervous system
Ashlyn Swift-Gallant,1 Lee Niel,2 and D Ashley Monkscorresponding author1,3,4,5
1Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON, Canada
2Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
3Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
4Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
5Neuroscience Program, University of Toronto, AA, ON, Canada
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Ashlyn Swift-Gallant: a.swift.gallant/at/utoronto.ca; Lee Niel: niell/at/uoguelph.ca; D Ashley Monks: ashley.monks/at/utoronto.ca
Received February 3, 2012; Accepted May 28, 2012.
Abstract
Sexual differentiation of the nervous system occurs via the interplay of genetics, endocrinology and social experience through development. Much of the research into mechanisms of sexual differentiation has been driven by an implicit theoretical framework in which these causal factors act primarily and directly on sexually dimorphic neural populations within the central nervous system. This review will examine an alternative explanation by describing what is known about the role of peripheral structures and mechanisms (both neural and non-neural) in producing sex differences in the central nervous system. The focus of the review will be on experimental evidence obtained from studies of androgenic masculinization of the spinal nucleus of the bulbocavernosus, but other systems will also be considered.
Keywords: Brain, Spinal cord, Sexual differentiation, Androgen receptor, Spinal nucleus of the bulbocavernosus, Neuromuscular, Sexual behavior
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