Sex-dependent structural asymmetry of the medial habenular nucleus of the chicken brain

Cell Tissue Res. 1985;240(1):149-52. doi: 10.1007/BF00217568.


An investigation of structural asymmetry in the avian brain was conducted on the epithalamic medial habenular nucleus of the chicken. Twelve male and ten female two-day-old chickens were used for a morphometric evaluation of asymmetry. The medial habenular nucleus was measured from paraffin-wax-embedded, 8 micron-thick sections by use of a semiautomatic image analyser. The volumes of the right and left medial habenula of each animal were statistically analysed ('within animal experimental design'). The right medial habenula in males showed significant group asymmetry. In contrast, females failed to demonstrate group bias in favour of either hemisphere. However, individual females were lateralised, with either a larger right or left medial habenula. Although individuals of both sexes were lateralised, there was no significant sex difference in volume in either the right or left medial habenula. We propose that sex-linked structural asymmetry may be influenced by steroid hormonal effects in the central nervous system, and that such asymmetry could be more prevalent in the non-mammalian vertebrate brain than previously considered.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*