The study was recently posted in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
While the human brain tends to shrink with age, men's brains diminish faster than women's which may explain why the fairer sex are more likely to stay mentally sharp in their later years, finds a study led by a researcher of Indian-origin.
The study came after Goyal and a team of researchers studied the brain scans of 205 people whose ages ranged from 20 to 82. Goyal said, "We don't see brain aging itself as something that needs to be "halted" He added that, "what we need to understand is how brain aging contributes to diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, and why some people are more or less resilient to developing Alzheimer's and other brain diseases". Our recent multitracer PET brain imaging data demonstrate that as the brain ages, its resting metabolism gradually shifts away from a mixture of nonoxidative and oxidative use of glucose to predominantly oxidative metabolism (4, 5). Here, Goyal and his colleagues compared participants' actual ages with their metabolic brain ages to see whether each brain was younger or older than expected. "We found in fact that females had a younger brain age relative to males". It's also been demonstrated that gene expression in the brain changes more rapidly in ageing men than women, resulting in a reduced ability to build and break down molecules in the male brain. "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".
"Women's brains are almost four years younger than men's, at least in how they burn fuel, according to scans performed by U.S. researchers", The Guardian reports.
This latest research now indicates that female brains, on average, appear to be about three years more youthful than the brains of males of the same age when it comes to brain metabolism.
A group of researchers from the USA took specialist brain scans from almost 200 healthy adults aged between 20 and 80.
Brain aging is associated with a gradual decline in brain metabolism.
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As adulthood progresses, less and less glucose is pumped through people's brains and by the time we're 60, only a tiny amount makes its way through our minds. But if true, the researchers hypothesize that having a metabolically "younger" brain might provide women with "some degree of resilience to aging-related changes" in the brain.
It's already well known that women live slightly longer than men.
As the researchers say, the extent of brain decline varies considerably between individuals.
"What we don't know is what it means", senior study author Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a statement. "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".
Did sex affect brain age?
Accordingly, it is important to understand the factors that influence brain aging, particularly in the context of an aging population.