Relative Cerebellum Size Is Not Sexually Dimorphic across Primates

Alex R. Decasien, James P. Higham

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background/Aims: Substantive sex differences in behavior and cognition are found in humans and other primates. However, potential sex differences in primate neuroanatomy remain largely unexplored. Here, we investigate sex differences in the relative size of the cerebellum, a region that has played a major role in primate brain evolution and that has been associated with cognitive abilities that may be subject to sexual selection in primates. Methods: We compiled individual volumetric and sex data from published data sources and used MCMC generalized linear mixed models to test for sex effects in relative cerebellar volume while controlling for phylogenetic relationships between species. Given that the cerebellum is a functionally heterogeneous structure involved in multiple complex cognitive processes that may be under selection in males or females within certain species, and that sexual selection pressures vary so greatly across primate species, we predicted there would be no sex difference in the relative size of the cerebellum across primates. Results: Our results support our prediction, suggesting there is no consistent sex difference in relative cerebellum size. Conclusion: This work suggests that the potential for sex differences in relative cerebellum size has been subject to either developmental constraint or lack of consistent selection pressures, and highlights the need for more individual-level primate neuroanatomical data to facilitate intra-and inter-specific study of brain sexual dimorphism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)93-101
    Number of pages9
    JournalBrain, Behavior and Evolution
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


    • Cerebellum
    • Comparative neuroanatomy
    • Sexual dimorphism
    • Sexual selection

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental Neuroscience
    • Behavioral Neuroscience


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