Sex diversity in the 21st century: Concepts, frameworks, and approaches for the future of neuroendocrinology

Smiley, Kristina O, Munley, Kathleen M, Aghi, Krisha, Lipshutz, Sara E, Patton, Tessa M, Pradhan, Devaleena S, Solomon-Lane, Tessa K, Sun, Simón ED (November 2023) Sex diversity in the 21st century: Concepts, frameworks, and approaches for the future of neuroendocrinology. Hormones and Behaviour, 157. p. 105445. ISSN 0018-506X

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DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2023.105445


Sex is ubiquitous and variable throughout the animal kingdom. Historically, scientists have used reductionist methodologies that rely on a priori sex categorizations, in which two discrete sexes are inextricably linked with gamete type. However, this binarized operationalization does not adequately reflect the diversity of sex observed in nature. This is due, in part, to the fact that sex exists across many levels of biological analysis, including genetic, molecular, cellular, morphological, behavioral, and population levels. Furthermore, the biological mechanisms governing sex are embedded in complex networks that dynamically interact with other systems. To produce the most accurate and scientifically rigorous work examining sex in neuroendocrinology and to capture the full range of sex variability and diversity present in animal systems, we must critically assess the frameworks, experimental designs, and analytical methods used in our research. In this perspective piece, we first propose a new conceptual framework to guide the integrative study of sex. Then, we provide practical guidance on research approaches for studying sex-associated variables, including factors to consider in study design, selection of model organisms, experimental methodologies, and statistical analyses. We invite fellow scientists to conscientiously apply these modernized approaches to advance our biological understanding of sex and to encourage academically and socially responsible outcomes of our work. By expanding our conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches to the study of sex, we will gain insight into the unique ways that sex exists across levels of biological organization to produce the vast array of variability and diversity observed in nature.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: organism description > animal behavior
neurobiology > neuroscience
organism description > animal behavior > sex differences
neurobiology > neuroscience > systems neuroscience
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Tollkuhn lab
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: 16 November 2023
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2023 14:06
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 13:59
PMCID: PMC10842816
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