“Great news for many women”
| Scans show women’s brains remain youthful as male brains wind down
| NPR – Women tend to have more youthful brains than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to metabolism.
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.
“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. And that may mean women are better equipped to learn and be creative in later life, he says.
The finding is “great news for many women,” says Roberta Diaz Brinton, who wasn’t connected with the study and directs the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. ALSO: Snoring Kills, And It’s Worse In Women
But she cautions that even though women’s brain metabolism is higher overall, some women’s brains experience a dramatic metabolic decline around menopause, leaving them vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
The study came after Goyal and a team of researchers studied the brain scans of 205 people whose ages ranged from 20 to 82. Positron emission tomography scans of these people assessed metabolism by measuring how much oxygen and glucose was being used at many different locations in the brain.
“Females had a younger brain age relative to males.”
The team initially hoped to use the metabolic information to predict a person’s age. So they had a computer study how metabolism changed in both men and women.
Then they reversed the process and had the computer estimate a person’s age based on brain metabolism data.
The approach worked. “It’s about 90 percent accurate,” Goyal says.
Even so, for some people there was a big difference between their brain age and their chronological age. And Goyal says the team wondered whether this difference was more pronounced in men or women.
So they checked.
“When we looked at males versus females, we did find an effect,” Goyal says. “We found in fact that females had a younger brain age relative to males.” Read more.