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Sex Differences in the BrainFrom Genes to Behavior$
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Jill B. Becker, Karen J. Berkley, Nori Geary, Elizabeth Hampson, James P. Herman, and Elizabeth Young

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195311587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195311587.001.0001

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Steroid Hormone Receptors and Sex Differences in Behavior

Steroid Hormone Receptors and Sex Differences in Behavior

Chapter:
(p.108) (p.109) Chapter 7 Steroid Hormone Receptors and Sex Differences in Behavior
Source:
Sex Differences in the Brain
Author(s):

Toni R. Pak

Robert J. Handa

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195311587.003.0007

This chapter discusses how gonadal steroid hormones contribute to broad sex differences in the behavior of adult animals and the underlying molecular mechanisms that mediate hormone action. During ontogeny, gonadal steroid hormones organize many sex differences that are not manifested behaviorally until sexual maturity is attained. Moreover, these hormones act centrally through their specific receptors in discrete brain regions that are critical for integrating external cues, monitoring internal homeostatic conditions, and executing appropriate behavioral responses. Nuclear steroid hormone receptors are widely distributed throughout regions of the brain critical for the normal display of adult sexual behavior in both males and females. These receptors rely on a complex suite of intracellular regulatory proteins that dictate whether the hormone will have an inhibitory or stimulatory effect on subsequent gene transcription. The chapter highlights how the field of neuroendocrinology has substantially advanced the understanding of how the neonatal steroid hormone environment contributes at the molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels to define gender-specific differences.

Keywords:   sex differences, gonadal steroid hormones, neuroendocrinology, sexual maturity

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