Published: Wed, February 06, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Women's brain 3 years younger than men's: study | #AsiaNewsNetwork

Women's brain 3 years younger than men's: study | #AsiaNewsNetwork

The stunning find may explain why girls stay sharper as they get older than boys, scientists said.

"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 typical female brain is more energetically youthful than the typical male brain throughout life".

According to the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, women's brains appeared metabolically younger than men's. Each person had five or six brain scans, which, combined, showed measurements of regional glucose use, oxygen consumption and blood flow in the brain.

For each person, the researchers determined the fraction of sugar committed to aerobic glycolysis - that sustains brain development and maturation - in various regions of the brain.

The researchers analyzed brain scans of more than 200 adults, specifically looking at a measure of the brain's metabolism that's known to change with age.

They taught a computer algorithm to predict men's ages based on brain metabolism data, then fed women's metabolism data into the program. It was this algorithm that revealed that women's brains were an average of 3.8 years younger than men's.

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

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However, new research focused on metabolic processes that have a major influence on brain performance and ageing.

This can cause problems later in life and scientists hope to one day slow it down with state-of-the-art drugs or brain therapy. They used the women's data as a baseline, and estimated the men's ages based exclusively on their metabolism data. Even among the youngest participants, women's brains are younger than men's. Similarly, the algorithm judged men's brains to be an average 2.4 years older than their actual age.

Goyal and his colleagues hypothesize that the greater youthfulness in the female brain might provide some degree of resilience to aging-related changes.

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.

The study was conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in the USA and funded by grants from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, Charles F. and Joanne Knight, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience, and the National Institutes of Health. However, women and men experience the process a little differently. Notably, many of these studies are performed by comparing age-matched females and males.

More work is underway to confirm and better understand the implications of the research.

"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.

At any age, you can help protect your health by having a balanced diet, taking regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight, not smoking and drinking in moderation.

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