Professor Ivanka Savic-Berglund teaches neurology at the Karolinska Institute, the same university where she graduated in Medicine and where she earned her PhD researching the basic mechanisms of epilepsy.
After that, she continued her postdoctoral training in imaging of human epilepsy at the Department of Neurology of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where she’s now a visiting professor since 2017.
Professor Savic-Berglund’s research has branched from epilepsy to human olfaction and, more recently, to gender differences in the human brain, their biological foundations and clinical implications. Her lecture regards the latter subject, entitled “A new theory about the neurobiology of gender dysphoria”; using the results acquired from multi-methodological MRI investigations of healthy trans and cis sexual individuals, Professor Ivanka suggested the hypothesis that “the main hallmark for gender dysphoria is a structural and functional disconnection within body-self perception networks in the mesial prefrontal and parietal cortices.”
According to the current belief, gender dysphoria may arise from pre-(and early post-) natal hormonal exposure. The research to back up this notion is based on brain imaging studies, and while these are unanimous in showing structural and functional differences among cisgender male and female controls, the same cannot be said in relation to subjects with Gender Dysphoria (GD). Moreover, the core feature of GD (a strong perception of incongruence between one’s sense of self and one’s body) isn’t addressed by the great majority of the available imaging data. Given this, professor Savic-Berglund’s talk will present new brain imaging data challenging the general view about a ‘sex-atypical’ cerebral dimorphism in gender dysphoria.