SciCafe: How the Brain Shows its Feminine Side

November 4, 2015

SciCafe: How the Brain Shows its Feminine Side

“Is it a boy or a girl?”- This is typically the first question asked of new parents, and often a defining aspect of individual identity. But what is the brain biology behind sexual differences? Join Bridget Nugent, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania, to learn about how sex differences in the embryonic brain are created by hormones and influenced by epigenetics as the brain develops and matures.

This SciCafe event occurred on October 7, 2015. Hear the full program in this podcast, or watch a version here: 

Read More:

  • An overview of the epigenetic processes, and how they relate to sexual differentiation of the brain.
  • A seminal paper describing the discovery of how gonadal steroid hormones (testosterone) “organize” sex differences in the developing brain.
  • In this physiology review, learn how Estradiol exposure during the “sensitive period”, a brief window of time when the brain is vulnerable to the organizing effects of gonadal hormones, changes the developing male brain in many ways.
  • Read about the most recent results that suggest sexual differentiation of the brain is more flexible than we once believed.

About the Speaker


Dr. Bridget Nugent received her PhD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Her award-winning dissertation revealed a novel role of DNA methylation in feminization of the brain. She continued her research on the neuroendocrine origins of behavioral plasticity as a Donnelly Fellow at the Yale Institute for Biospheric studies, where she investigated the hormonal and neurogenomic mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity in wild Mediterranean reef fish.  She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies prenatal stress and sex-specific epigenetic mechanisms that underlie gender biases in the etiology of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Frequent Geek Cards

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Get three stamps, receive a free drink.
  • Get five stamps, receive a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
  • Get all nine stamps, and receive two tickets to a special exhibition of your choice.