Brain Signature Characterizing the Body-Brain-Mind Axis of Transsexuals

Hsiao Lun Ku, Chia Shu Lin, Hsiang Tai Chao, Pei Chi Tu, Cheng Ta Li, Chou Ming Cheng, Tung Ping Su, Ying Chiao Lee*, Jen Chuen Hsieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Individuals with gender identity disorder (GID), who are commonly referred to as transsexuals (TXs), are afflicted by negative psychosocial stressors. Central to the psychological complex of TXs is the conviction of belonging to the opposite sex. Neuroanatomical and functional brain imaging studies have demonstrated that the GID is associated with brain alterations. In this study, we found that TXs identify, when viewing male-female couples in erotic or non-erotic ("neutral") interactions, with the couple member of the desired gender in both situations. By means of functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that the TXs, as opposed to controls (CONs), displayed an increased functional connectivity between the ventral tegmental area, which is associated with dimorphic genital representation, and anterior cingulate cortex subregions, which play a key role in social exclusion, conflict monitoring and punishment adjustment. The neural connectivity pattern suggests a brain signature of the psychosocial distress for the gender-sex incongruity of TXs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere70808
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2013


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