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Gender differences in gating of the auditory evoked potential in normal subjects.


Central nervous system (CNS) inhibitory mechanisms hypothesized to "gate" repetitive sensory inputs have been implicated in the pathology of schizophrenia. The present study investigated gender differences in inhibitory gating of evoked brain responses to repeated stimuli in normal subjects (30 women and 30 men) using an auditory conditioning-testing paradigm. Pairs of click stimuli (S1 and S2) were presented with a 0.5 s intrapair and a 10 s interpair interval. The amplitudes and latencies of the P50, N100, P180 components of the auditory evoked response to the conditioning (S1) and test response (S2) were measured, and the gating ratios were computed (T/C ratio = S2/S1 * 100). The amplitudes to S1 were not significantly different between men and women at P50, N100, or P180. However, women had significantly higher amplitudes to S2 at P50 (p = 0.03) and N100 (p = 0.04). The T/C ratios for women were higher (i.e., less suppression of response to S2) for P50 (p = 0.08) and N100 (p = 0.04) compared to men. The results suggested that differences in auditory gating between men and women were not due to biological differences in the P50 and N100 generators but possibly to differential influence of inhibitory mechanisms acting on the generator substrates of these evoked responses.

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