The discovery may help to explain why women tend to stay mentally sharp longer than men in their later years. He said brain metabolism might help researchers understand some of the differences seen between men and women as they age. To test the hypothesis, Goyal and co-authors analyzed PET imaging of 205 cognitively normal men (n=84) and women (n=121) ranging from 20 to 82 years old.
Some theorists have predicted that females might have more youthful brains compared with males, but findings supporting this idea have been contradictory.
Pointing to existing research, the team surmised that women's brains could be free from neurocongitive decline for longer for a number of reasons.
Then, the researchers flipped their analysis: they trained the algorithm on women's data, and told it to calculate the brain ages for men. A new study suggests that, by at least one measure, women's brains are biologically younger than men's of the same age.
Also, the relative youthfulness of women's brains was detectable even among the youngest participants, who were in their 20s.
"They start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life", said Goyal.
The algorithm isn't described in depth, but essentially it uses the data to predict the metabolic age of the brain.
One change involves the way the brain uses sugar and oxygen to fuel its efforts, Goyal said.
As adulthood progresses, people get less of the glucose pumped through the brain, reducing the energy funneled into the process. Then they reversed the method and had the pc estimate an individual's age based mostly on mind metabolism knowledge. We find that in terms of brain metabolism, the adult female brain is on average a few years younger than the male brain. Notably, many of these studies are performed by comparing age-matched females and males.
But researchers have understood little about how brain metabolism differs between men and women. "This difference is present even in brains that show amyloid plaques that are seen in Alzheimer's disease, although none of the persons had any clinical symptoms of the condition", Devi said of the new findings. Study Implication Goyal clarified that the study does not imply that men's brains are aging faster.
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.
"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 now working on a study to confirm that", he added.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about the aging brain. "Differences in how a female's and a male's brain develops across puberty sets the stage for how they're going to age subsequently".
He concluded that diet and exercise can keep the metabolism of the brain running and can have an influence on "healthy aging and in disease".