Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A new paper from Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics's Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour has shown how males and females are programmed differently in terms of sex.

The brains of a male and female fly merged together shows an intertwined network of neurons in roughly the same position, demonstrating that neural activity in each brain is similar yet subtly different.
A sexually dimorphic doublesex-expressing neuronal cluster in the brain. The male (green) and female (magenta) corresponding clusters are co-registered onto a template brain (blue)

The evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson wrote, “The battle of the sexes is an eternal war.”  

In most animal species, the costs associated with reproduction differ between the sexes: females often benefit most from producing high-quality offspring, while males often benefit from mating with as many females as possible. As a result, males and females have evolved profoundly different adaptations to suit their own reproductive needs. So, how does selection act on the nervous system to produce adaptive sex-differences in behaviour within the bounds set by physical constraints, including both size and energy, and a largely shared genome?

A new study from the Goodwin group (Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour, Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics) led by Dr Tetsuya Nojima and Dr Annika Rings, offers a solution to this long-standing question by uncovering a novel circuit architecture principle that allows deployment of completely different behavioural repertoires in males and females, with minimal circuit changes.

Read the full story on the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics website.

The story is also featured in the Oxford Science Blog 'Males and females are programmed differently in terms of sex'.

Similar stories

Five ways the pandemic has affected routine medical care

Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID has infected at least a third of the UK population and is estimated to have factored in the deaths of almost 200,000 people in the UK. But critically, COVID has also had a devastating impact on our healthcare systems. While this was expected, new evidence is beginning to reveal the scope of the issue – in particular the effects for people living with long-term health conditions.

Clinical trials for a malaria vaccine start in Mali and Indonesia

Sanaria Inc. announced that two new Phase 2 trials of its pioneering malaria vaccines have started. The first is in 6- to 10-year-old children living in Bancoumana, Mali, a malarious region of West Africa. The second is in Indonesian soldiers based in Sumatra, Indonesia. The soldiers will be deploying for six to nine months this coming August to an intensely malarious district in eastern Indonesia.

Mechanism of expanding bacteria revealed

A new study published in Nature has identified a potential Achilles heel in the protective layers surrounding Gram-negative bacteria that could aid in the development of next-generation antibiotics.

Oxford to receive £7 million to turn bright ideas into global opportunities

The University of Oxford has been awarded more than £7 million, the highest amount of funding given to organisations across the UK, in the latest round of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funding - aimed at fueling the best, brightest and most disruptive ideas from Uk research institutions.

Discovery of gene involved in chronic pain creates new treatment target

Oxford researchers have discovered a gene that regulates pain sensitisation by amplifying pain signals within the spinal cord, helping them to understand an important mechanism underlying chronic pain in humans and providing a new treatment target.

Oxford's largest ever study into Varicose veins shows need for surgery is linked to genetics

A new international study by Oxford researchers published in Nature Communications establishes for the first time, a critical genetic risk score to predict the likelihood of patients suffering with Varicose veins to require surgery, as well as pointing the way towards potential new therapies.