The researchers analyzed the brain scans of more than 200 adults, especially after observing a brain-metabolic process with age changes. They found that, based on these metabolic levels, on average, the female brain was three years younger than the male brain of the same age.
Although the findings still need to be further confirmed in subsequent studies, if this is true, the researchers speculate that having a “young brain” may provide a certain degree of “elasticity to age-related changes” in women’s brains.
In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers pointed out that the study will help explain why women’s thinking ability declines with age. But all this still needs more research to confirm.
Dr. Manu Goyal, a senior author of the study and associate professor of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said that it is also possible to explain why women have less cognitive decline in their later years than men of the same age because their brains are actually younger.
The main source of fuel for the brain is sugar or glucose, but the state of the brain uses glucose to vary with age. When people are younger, more glucose is used in a metabolic process called aerobic glycolysis, which is thought to help in brain development and maturation, including promoting brain cell growth. But as people age, the aerobic glycolysis process that their brains experience will gradually decrease, reaching very low levels in their 60s.
However, little is known about the differences in brain metabolism between men and women. In this latest study, the researchers analyzed 121 women and 84 male testers, aged between 20 and 82 years old.
They developed a machine learning algorithm to discover the relationship between people’s age and brain metabolism. They found that the algorithm can accurately predict their actual age based on the “metabolic age” of a person’s brain.
At the beginning, they only entered male age and brain metabolic data into machine learning algorithms; later, they also entered female data into this machine learning algorithm and used it to calculate the metabolic age of women. It was found that when male data was applied as an algorithm template, the metabolic age of female brain obtained by the algorithm was 3.8 years younger than the real age of female.
The researchers then performed a reverse analysis: they applied the algorithm to female data and used to calculate the age of the male brain. In this way, the algorithm calculates the age of the male brain to be 2.4 years older than their actual brain age.
Interestingly, the difference between the brain ages of men and women also exists in the group of young people in their 20s, Goyal said: “This study does not mean that the male brain ages faster, just the brain when the male adult Age is three years older than a woman, and the situation will last a lifetime.”
The researchers emphasize that female brains are relatively “metabolically younger” than men, which is very similar to the slightly longer life characteristics of women. However, Goyal said that the age difference between men and women is relatively small compared to other well-known gender differences such as height.
More research is still needed to understand the age difference in this brain and whether it affects the risk of age-related brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.