Stress test

Adolescent girls who experience trauma are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than boys, and a new study may help explain why.

A team of Stanford researchers found sex differences in the anterior circular sulcus, a portion of the brain’s insula, which contributes to the awareness of one’s feelings and to empathy. The region was larger in traumatized boys compared with nontraumatized boys in the control group, and smaller in traumatized girls than in girls in the control group.

“It is possible that boys and girls could exhibit different trauma symptoms and that they might benefit from different approaches to treatment,” says Megan Klabunde, PhD, instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. She is the lead author of the study, published in November 2016 in Depression and Anxiety.