Men's Brains Are Three Years 'Older' Than Women's at the Same Age

A machine-learned algorithm showed that women's brains were on average about 3.8 years younger than their chronological ages

A machine-learned algorithm showed that women's brains were on average about 3.8 years younger than their chronological ages

"Females had a younger brain age relative to males", says Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology and neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The difference is consistent from early adulthood into the senior years, reports the Guardian. The brain still uses sugar for cognitive function, but aerobic glycolysis plateaus at a low level usually by the time people are in their 60s.

Scientists have just found a new distinction between the brains of the two sexes: age-related changes to the brain occur more slowly in women than in men.

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

Brain aging is linked with a gradual decline in brain metabolism - the chemical processes that help it run. The brain's metabolism slows as people grow older, and this, too, may differ between men and women.

As adulthood progresses, people get less of the glucose pumped through the brain, reducing the energy funneled into the process.

Researchers then tried using a female benchmark set with women's ages and brain metabolism.

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It may explain why older men see a bigger drop in their memory and language skills than women, whose younger brains may protect them from forgetfulness for longer.

A machine-learned algorithm showed that women's brains were on average about 3.8 years younger than their chronological ages.

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.

Still, Goyal noted that the difference between men and women's brain ages was relatively small compared with other well-known sex differences, such as height.

Interestingly, the gap between men and women's brain ages was detectable even in young adults in their 20s. "We're being very cautious in not speculating on what this means in terms of downstream dementia and so forth". 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".

Goyal said that the researchers are now working on another study to test whether the findings play a role in why women don't experience as much cognitive decline as men.

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