Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Study finds women's brains appear to be three years younger than men's

Women's Brains Appear'Years Younger Than Men's Study Women's brains are four years younger than men's on average
Gustavo Carr | 06 February, 2019, 10:57

Dr. Michael Bloomfield, honorary consultant psychiatrist and head of the Translational Psychiatry Research Group at University College in London, told Newsweek, "It is important that we don't draw unjustified conclusions from this study in terms of differences between men and women, but that doesn't take away the need to ask these questions". The brain's metabolism slows as people grow older, and this, too, may differ between men and women.

Men's brains may be larger but women hold a trump card in the mental battle of the sexes: their grey matter behaves as if it were three years younger.

In the battle of the sexes, women may just have their male counterparts beat when it comes to brain health.

The team initially hoped to use the metabolic information to predict a person's age. But as people age, their brain undergoes a reduction in aerobic glycolysis, which reaches very low levels by the time they are in their 60s. But if true, the researchers hypothesize that having a metabolically "younger" brain might provide women with "some degree of resilience to aging-related changes" in the brain.

In the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers studied 205 people to figure out how their brains use sugar.

The researchers were looking at the flow of oxygen and glucose in their brains to determine the proportion of the glucose that was being allocated to aerobic glycolysis.

They researchers created algorithms to calculate the metabolic ages of the participants, which they compared to their chronological ages. Doing it this way, the algorithm reported that the men's brains were about 2.4 years older than their actual chronological ages.

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The researchers also performed the analysis in reverse: They trained the algorithm on women's data and applied it to the men's.

All brains get smaller with age, and it was already known that men's tend to shrink at a faster rate. And that may mean women are better equipped to learn and be creative in later life, he says.

The relative youthfulness of female brains was detectable even when comparing men and women in their 20s, the researchers said. "They start adulthood about three years older than women and that persists throughout life".

"What we don't know is what it means". However, it's possible that it could explain why "women don't experience as much cognitive decline [as men] in later years, . because their brains are effectively younger".

"Brain metabolism might help us understand some of the differences we see between men and women as they age".

To explore this next question, Goyal and his team are now expanding their research to evaluating the likelihood of adults' developing cognitive problems over time.