Sex Differences in Striatal Neurons
Dr. John Meitzen; Professor, North Carolina University
December 1 in the Fralin Auditorium, Fralin Hall 102
Hosted by Dr. Christopher Thompson
Sex plays a complicated and still largely unknown role in modulating neuron function. This includes neurons regulating behaviors that are not sex-specific, including motivated behavior, reward, and sensorimotor function in both normal and pathological contexts. Investigations into the mechanisms underlying these behaviors have targeted the striatal brain regions, including the caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens core and shell. Indeed, the output neurons of the striatum, the medium spiny neurons, exhibit hormone sensitivity and sex differences in select electrophysiological properties. Here I will discuss the current state of knowledge regarding sex differences in medium spiny neuron electrophysiological properties across striatal regions, including evidence for estradiol-mediated sexual differentiation in the nucleus accumbens core. Sex differences in the striatum vary by region and developmental stage. Thus, despite possessing the same neuron types, striatal regions exhibit considerable heterogeneity in the nature of sex differences in MSN electrophysiological properties, creating a complex and challenging phenotype. These data are important for not only understanding how sex regulates striatal neuron function and related behaviors, but also as a roadmap illustrating how investigators can address the role of sex in their own experiments.