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Male and female brains display anatomical and functional differences. Such differences are observed in species across the animal kingdom, including humans, but have been particularly well-studied in two classic animal model systems, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Here we summarize recent advances in understanding how the worm and fly brain acquire sexually dimorphic features during development. We highlight the advantages of each system, illustrating how the precise anatomical delineation of sexual dimorphisms in worms has enabled recent analysis into how these dimorphisms become specified during development, and how focusing on sexually dimorphic neurons in the fly has enabled an increasingly detailed understanding of sex-specific behaviors.

Original publication




Journal article


Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol

Publication Date





519 - 547


Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila, behavior, differentiation, sexual dimorphisms