The Pink and Blue in Gray Matter:
Hormones, Gender, and the Developing Mind

Date: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 Place: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
Registration: 5:30 p.m.   1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
Program: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.   The Rockefeller University

The differing behavioral attributes of boys and girls–and men and women–have become a major focus in social science. Many psychologists have paid close attention to the impact of gender bias in primary school classrooms, for example, while others have looked at how women and men can change the culture of a workplace when they venture into environments traditionally dominated by a single gender.

Margaret McCarthyThese discussions often lead to questions about the origins and significance of gender-related differences in the brain. A growing body of research indicates that hormones such as testosterone and estrogen exert lasting, sex-specific effects on the structure and function of the brain, beginning during embryonic development. Nonetheless, the causal links between biology and gender-related behavioral predispositions are poorly understood. Intriguing clues have begun to emerge, however, from the work of Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D., a former Rockefeller University postdoctoral investigator who now conducts research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. McCarthy was named chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2011, and also serves as a professor in the departments of physiology and psychology.

Dr. McCarthy has made critical discoveries about how hormones shape the brain and its cellular connections. Her studies with rodent models have shown that the amygdala, a brain region involved in emotions and social behavior, exhibits gender-associated differences in cellular structure and chemistry. These findings have implications for understanding gender disparities in psychiatric health—one of her laboratory’s main interests. Dr. McCarthy and her colleagues are looking for factors that can help to explain why young men have a higher incidence of autism, attention deficit disorder, and early-onset schizophrenia, while women are more likely to develop major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.

The Women & Science and Parents & Science initiatives will co-present this special evening program with Dr. McCarthy, who will share her insights on a fascinating area of neuroscience that is too often oversimplified. Rockefeller President and Carson Family Professor Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., who heads a laboratory that studies brain development at the University, will host the program.

Register online at: https://parentsandscience.rockefeller.edu/2014-fall/register

For more information, please contact Carly Lynch at (212) 327-8965 or clynch@rockefeller.edu

Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University

Parents & Science
Faculty Advisor

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor
Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch
Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology

Parents & Science Leadership


Daniella Lipper Coules
Talbott Simonds

Steering Committee

Rebecca Anikstein
John Bernstein
Charles W. Caulkins
Karen de Saint Phalle
Blair Pillsbury Enders
Wendy Ettinger
Kathy Heinzelman
Tania Neild, Ph.D.
Ilona Nemeth
Marean Pompidou
Courtney Smith Rae
Loli Echavarria Roosevelt
Kimberly Kravis Schulhof
Roxy Zajac

Scientific Advisory Council

Evelyn Attia, M.D.
BJ Casey, Ph.D.
Myron Hofer, M.D.
Ilene Sackler Lefcourt
Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D.
Richard Nisbett, Ph.D.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

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