Think About This: Men’s Brains May Be “Older” Than Women’s

It might sound hard to believe, but men and women’s brains may not share the same aging process. You heard that right – a recent study has found that women’s brains might be younger than their male counterparts. 

Number Crunching 

This report was produced by a team from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. During their research, the study’s authors analyzed brain-imaging scans of 205 adult participants. Of this total, 121 were women, and 84 were men. The ages of these participants ranged from 20 to 82. 

So how did the research team find an age gap between the two genders’ brains? This goal was accomplished with the aid of a machine-learning algorithm. The first step in this process was to teach this algorithm to depict a relationship between a person’s age and their brain metabolism. With this accomplished, the authors then trained the machine-learning algorithm to determine the metabolic brain ages of men. Finally, they uncovered the same information for the study’s female participants. 

Once all the number-crunching and data mining was finished, the authors reached two notable conclusions: 

  • When data from men was involved, the algorithm reported that the women’s brain-metabolic ages were roughly four years younger than the chronological ages of their brains.
  • For men, the story was much different; after being fed the women’s cerebral data, the algorithm calculated that the male participants’ metabolic ages were nearly two and a half years older than their brain’s actual ages. 

So what does this “age gap” mean? That’s a really good question. In a Washington University press release, senior study author Dr. Manu Goyal stated that “it’s not that men’s brains age faster – they start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life. What we don’t know is what it means. 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 currently working on a study to confirm that.”

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