A study from the Georgetown University Medical Center is the first to compare the brain anatomy of males and females with dyslexia. Researchers conducted MRIs on the brains of males and females (both adults and children) with and without dyslexia. They found that there is a marked difference between the brain anatomy of dyslexia between the sexes.

The research, published in the journal Brain Structure and Function examined the brains of 118 adults and children. Adults were divided into two groups of 27 (one with dyslexic people and the other without); 14 men and 13 women. Children divided up into two groups of 32 9- and 10-year olds, with 15 boys and 17 girls per group. Each group went through MRI brain scans. The results revealed critical differences between the brains of dyslexic males and females.

Male dyslexic brains had a greater volume of grey matter in language processing areas like the left temporal gyrus, while females showed greater volume the sensory and motor processing area of the right parietal lobe. Female brains did not exhibit any distinguishing features in the temporal lobe. The researchers theorize that dyslexia could have discrete neural origins in the different sexes.

In general, our existing understanding of dyslexia is focused on men and may not apply to women, but this study reveals that separate diagnoses and treatments for women and men may be beneficial. “It has been assumed that results of studies conducted in men are generalizable to both sexes,” stated author Dr. Guinevere Eden, director for the Center for the Study of Learning at the Georgetown University Medical Center. “There is sex-specific variance in brain anatomy and females tend to use both hemispheres for language tasks, while males just the left.”

As many as 15% of Americans have reading problems like dyslexia, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities and dyslexia affects twice as many men as women.

For information on how iLs works with dyslexia, visit our case studies page.