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

Women's Brains Are 3 Years'Younger Than Men's Study Suggests

Women's Brains Are 3 Years'Younger Than Men's Study Suggests

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.

"What we don't know is what it means", senior study author Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a statement.

"Ultimately, many studies keep showing that the differences between any two people tend to be negligible, and that the power of this type of study is in looking at large numbers of brain scans". Women consistently fared better. 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'.

Then, the researchers flipped their analysis: they trained the algorithm on women's data, and told it to calculate the brain ages for men. When people are younger, they devote more glucose to a metabolic process called "aerobic glycolysis", which is thought to help with brain development and maturation, including brain-cell growth.

The US team looked at PET (Positron Emission Tomography) brain scan images from 205 men and women ranging in age from 20 to 82.

For the study, the scientists used a machine learning computer programme to explore the relationship between metabolic and chronological brain age.

All brains get smaller with age, and it was already known that men's tend to shrink at a faster rate. Doing it this way, the algorithm reported that the men's brains were about 2.4 years older than their actual chronological ages.

Goyal said that while the differences between the brain age of men and women was "significant", it was "nowhere near as big a difference as some sex differences, such as height".

In their paper, the researchers wrote: "We find that throughout the adult lifespan the female brain has a persistently lower metabolic brain age - relative to their chronological age - compared with the male brain".

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.

A group of scientists believe the brain metabolisms of women take longer to slow than men's, which could explain why they tend to stave off cognitive decline for longer.

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