How a woman's brain will stay sharper longer

06 February, 2019, 23:14 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Women's brains are four years younger than men's on average

Men's brains are almost four years "older" than those of females the same age, explaining why women stay sharper for longer in old age, according to new research.

"This huge amount of data" allowed the researchers "to convincingly show that, no matter how you look at it, males have more accelerated metabolic brain age (e.g., greater than their actual calendar age)", said Lockhart, who was not involved in the new study but who has researched the roles of vascular and metabolic disorders in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers put data from the scans that showed how the brain uses oxygen and glucose into a computer model that was created to estimate the metabolic age of individuals' brains. In the study of more than 200 adults who underwent brain scans, the researchers looked at brain metabolism-how efficiently the brains were able to turn sugar into fuel that powers the brain.

The study was recently posted in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

The findings, led by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, showed that women's brains appear to be about three years younger than men of the same chronological age, metabolically speaking.

Then, the researchers flipped their analysis: they trained the algorithm on women's data, and told it to calculate the brain ages for men. They found that on average, women's brains are 3.8 years younger than men's. "Rather, it seems that women's brains start off at a younger age when they reach adulthood, and they keep that throughout the remainder of their adulthood, basically buying them a few extra years". Similarly, the algorithm judged men's brains to be an average 2.4 years older than their actual age.

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.

That is based on their use of glucose, and how it is burned for energy, which can affect brain performance.

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

It was already known that men's brains shrink faster with age than women's, but the new results suggest their brain metabolism is different too. "Males, their blood flow to the brain decreases quite a bit as they go through puberty". "This might mean women are a little bit more resilient to certain aspects of brain aging in general, but it could also introduce certain vulnerabilities".

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. So they had a computer study how metabolism changed in both men and women.

Goyal and his colleagues believe that the greater youthfulness in the female brain might give a degree of resilience to aging-related changes.

As the researchers say, the extent of brain decline varies considerably between individuals. We find that throughout the adult life span the female brain has a persistently lower metabolic brain age-relative to their chronological age-compared with the male brain. But Roberta Diaz Brinton, who studies brain aging at the University of Arizona, has a more optimistic take on the results.

'What we don't know is what it means. Female's brains appeared about four years youthful, commonly.

Human brain aging is characterized by varying trajectories.

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