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