Saturday, 20 July, 2019

Why women's grey matter ages better than men's

Even at 20 years-old women have an edge over men in terms of brain ageing say scientists Even at 20 years-old women have an edge over men in terms of brain ageing say scientists
Anna Jefferson | 07 February, 2019, 18:28

Women may have the advantage over men when it comes to brainpower.

Scientists measuring the brain activity of more than 200 people found that female brains were more youthful than those of males of the same age.

As you age, the brain's use of glucose changes.

But analysis of the data showed that at any given age women's brains were younger, metabolically speaking, than men's - by an average of 3.8 years. "I think this could mean that the reason women don't experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we're now working on a study to confirm that", Goyal said The study shows that older women tend to score better than men of the same age on tests of reason, memory and problem solving.

'Brain metabolism might help us understand some of the differences we see between men and women as they age'. To test the hypothesis, Goyal and co-authors analyzed PET imaging of 205 cognitively normal men (n=84) and women (n=121) ranging from 20 to 82 years old. As an individual grows older, the brain's metabolism slows down.

"Certainly, diet and exercise might be part of the equation here and we and others are planning to study this and how body metabolism in general influences brain metabolism in healthy aging and in disease", he said.

More studies are now needed to better understand this brain-age difference and whether it affects the risk of age-related brain disease, such a Alzheimer's.

While age reduces the metabolism of all brains, women retain a higher rate throughout the lifespan, researchers reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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A computer algorithm devised by the researchers to judge a brain's biological age found that women's brains were on average 3.8 years younger than their true age and men's brains 2.4 years older than their true age.

However, it is important to note that even the youngest participants, those in their 20s, showed a difference of about three years in age. Here, Goyal and his colleagues compared participants' actual ages with their metabolic brain ages to see whether each brain was younger or older than expected.

"I think this could mean that the reason women don't experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we're now working on a study to confirm that", he added. "I think this could mean that the reason women don't experience as much cognitive decline in later years is that their brains are effectively younger, and we're now working on a study to confirm that".

The discovery was made during brain surgery on a patient who was awake under local anaesthetic.

Brain aging is linked with a gradual decline in brain metabolism - the chemical processes that help it run. "Differences in how a female's and a male's brain develops across puberty sets the stage for how they're going to age subsequently".

Now, a new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has discovered a distinct difference specifically in our brains' age.

Regardless of the trigger, increased metabolism could give female brains an edge in the case of studying and creativity in later life, Goyal says.

But researchers have understood little about how brain metabolism differs between men and women.

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