Sexual Dimorphism of the Hippocampus Structure and Function in Psychosis

Katrina Hon, BA Candidate

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital – Research Assistant
Hon_Katrina poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: Previous studies showed that individuals with psychosis demonstrate a variety of sex-specific cognitive deficits potentially mediated by the hippocampal pathology. However, research on the sex-specificity of structural hippocampal abnormalities and their relationship with cognitive dysfunction in psychosis is still limited. Here, we analyzed sexual dimorphism of the hippocampus volumes in individuals with psychosis compared to healthy controls. We then investigated correlations between hippocampal abnormalities and cognitive measures of emotional affect and memory.

Methods: An automated FreeSurfer brain segmentation method was used to extract anterior and posterior hippocampus, as well as cornu ammonia (CA), dentate gyrus (DG), and subiculum subregions.  Working memory and emotional affect were measured using the NIH Toolbox. We applied 11 ANCOVAs (corrected for age) to investigate group, sex, and group x sex interaction effects (5 hippocampal volumes and 6 cognitive tests). We then measured correlations (stratified by sex) between hippocampal volumes and cognitive scores.

Results: ANCOVAs demonstrated significant sex effect for all hippocampal subregions (p<0.05) and significant group differences for all cognitive tests (p<0.05). No correlations between hippocampal volumes and cognitive scores were observed.

Conclusions: Our results show that the hippocampus demonstrates sexual dimorphism in both healthy controls and individuals with psychosis. We further confirm that cognitive deficits are present in individuals with psychosis. Surprisingly, we do not see an association between hippocampal volumes, working memory, and emotional affect.  Further research is needed to determine the relationship between the sex, hippocampus, cognition, and emotion in psychosis.

Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Katrina Hon, Holly Carrington, Kang Ik K. Cho, PhD, Nikos Makris, MD, PhD, Daphne Holt, MD, PhD, Kathryn Eve Lewandowski, PhD, Matcheri S. Keshavan, MD, Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, Alan Breier, MD, Martha E. Shenton, PhD, Marek Kubicki, MD, PhD, Johanna Seitz-Holland, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator

Marek Kubicki, MD, PhD