Whose brains are younger – men’s or women’s?

Whose brains are younger – men’s or women’s?

Recent research seems to suggest women’s brains are younger than men’s.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, women’s brains are, on average, about three years younger than the brains of their male counterparts, metabolically speaking.

Two hundred adults between the ages of 20-82 with no signs of neurological impairment, plaque growth or other disease participated in the study, undergoing a series of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, an imaging technique which allows clinicians to measure the metabolic activity of a tissue/organ. Researchers examined the brain’s metabolic rate, or the speed at which the brain is using oxygen and nutrients to produce energy.

They entered participants’ brain metabolism data into a machine-learning algorithm. The program calculated brain ages based off the brain metabolism data, producing brain ages about 3.8 years younger than women’s actual ages and 2.4 years older than men’s actual ages. This difference was apparent in even the youngest of participants and persists through adult life.

“Normal aging, even in people without a neurodegenerative disease, is associated with a decrease in brain metabolism,” says Dr. Pavan Murty, a vascular neurologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “At this time, we don’t know the reasons for this difference in the brains of men and women or its implications, but the findings open the door for future research, specifically to evaluate if there is any link between younger brain age in females and a decreased risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative disorders.”

The team is conducting a follow-up study to determine just that.

Check out these tips for taking care of your brain:

Related Posts


About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.