A new study suggests that, by at least one measure, women's brains are biologically younger than men's of the same age. The difference is consistent from early adulthood into the senior years, reports the Guardian.
In a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers studied 205 people to figure out how their brains use a portion of sugar in a process called aerobic glycolysis that sustained brain development but dropped steadily with age. "When we started looking at that, we were pleasantly surprised that when the machine was trying to age a woman compared to a man, it consistently aged the woman to be a little bit younger than the man", Goyal said. Having a younger brain for longer could make the brain more vulnerable to certain things as well.
Goyal's team conducted brain scans on 121 women and 84 men.
Brain aging is associated with a gradual decline in brain metabolism.
Scientists have observed that people's brains change both in structure and function as they grow older.
As adulthood progresses, people get less of the glucose pumped through the brain, reducing the energy funneled into the process.
According to the Independent, women's brains are known to be more resilient to cognitive decline with older women tending to score higher in tests of reason, memory, and problem solving than men the same age.
Further research is needed to uncover whether the neoteny of women helps them to avoid neurodegenerative diseases. They found that the algorithm could closely predict a person's chronological age based on their brain's "metabolic age". They found that women's brains were more youthful as young adults, and the trend continued into old age.
The relative youthfulness of female brains was detectable even when comparing men and women in their 20s, the researchers said. While the brain tends to shrink with age, men's diminish faster than women's.
'What we don't know is what it means.
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.
The team trained an AI algorithm to guess people's ages based on the amount of oxygen and glucose flowing through their brain.