Traditionally, neuroscience research has been constrained by scientists studying only one sex of subjects, primarily males, and no consideration has been given to the fact that men and women do in fact respond differently to treatments. For example, it is now known that low-dose aspirin has different preventative effects in women and men and that specific drugs require different dosing in women and men).
Recently, the National Institutes of Health issued new guidelines to address the issue of sex and gender inclusion across biomedical research. These guidelines, which are also part of the initiative to enhance rigor, transparency, and reproducibility, were implemented in January 2016 and now require authors to consider sex as a biological variable in designing their experiments.
A recent Special Issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research (JNR) on “Gender Influences on Nervous System Function” included articles from more than 70 leading research groups that study nearly every aspect of neuroscience, and provide data that indicates that sex matters at all levels of the brain and must be considered when conducting neuroscientific research.
The vast majority of papers are reviews and mini-reviews from well-established scientists, including a review of gender effects in depression from the President of the Society for Neuroscience, Eric Nestler. JNR is the first mainstream neuroscience journal to require authors to consider sex as a biological variable, which dovetails nicely with the new NIH requirements. The Editor, Eric Prager reports that the issue has generated significant interest from scientists and the public at large.