Sex Differences in Lifespan Trajectories and Variability of Human Sulcal and Gyral Morphology

Covadonga M. Diáz-Caneja*, Clara Alloza, Pedro M. Gordaliza, Alberto Fernández-Pena, Luciá De Hoyos, Javier Santonja, Elizabeth E.L. Buimer, Neeltje E.M. Van Haren, Wiepke Cahn, Celso Arango, René S. Kahn, Hilleke E. Hulshoff Pol, Hugo G. Schnack, Joost Janssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Sex differences in the development and aging of human sulcal morphology have been understudied. We charted sex differences in trajectories and inter-individual variability of global sulcal depth, width, and length, pial surface area, exposed (hull) gyral surface area, unexposed sulcal surface area, cortical thickness, gyral span, and cortex volume across the lifespan in a longitudinal sample (700 scans, 194 participants 2 scans, 104 three scans, age range: 16-70 years) of neurotypical males and females. After adjusting for brain volume, females had thicker cortex and steeper thickness decline until age 40 years; trajectories converged thereafter. Across sexes, sulcal shortening was faster before age 40, while sulcal shallowing and widening were faster thereafter. Although hull area remained stable, sulcal surface area declined and was more strongly associated with sulcal shortening than with sulcal shallowing and widening. Males showed greater variability for cortex volume and lower variability for sulcal width. Our findings highlight the association between loss of sulcal area, notably through sulcal shortening, with cortex volume loss. Studying sex differences in lifespan trajectories may improve knowledge of individual differences in brain development and the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5107-5120
Number of pages14
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
Early online date26 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021

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© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


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