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This Neuroscientist Wants Researchers to Study More Female Brains

By December 12, 2017No Comments

When we talk about female representation in science, we’re rarely talking about test subjects. We tend to want more women behind the microscope, not under it.

Neuroscience is one of the most skewed fields when it comes to testing on female physiology. One review found single-sex brain studies using male animals outnumbered those using females 6.7 to one.

Aarthi Gobinath, a neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia, calls this a “hidden gap” in her field. She says there’s reason to question the assumption that the brains of males and females are identical, particularly in unique states like pregnancy.

This is particularly true for early animal testing, where new drugs for depression and anxiety are first developed. “This leads to the ultimate outcome of our research not even benefiting males and females equally,” Gobinath told VICE.

Gobinath wanted to tackle the issue of sex bias by trying to understand what depression looks like in female rat brains, specifically looking at postpartum depression. Her research suggests our standard depression treatments don’t apply to new moms.

VICE caught up with Gobinath to ask about her new study, which could have wide-ranging implications for humans of all sexes and genders.