It turns out men and women aren’t created equally after all, at least when it comes to brain activity. A new study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease confirms what most ladies probably already suspected: A female brain is far more active than a male’s.
In the most comprehensive study of brain images to date, scientists analyzed 46,034 brain-imaging studies using single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) — an imaging technique that measures blood perfusion in the brain — from nine different clinics. Of the male and female subjects, 119 were healthy volunteers and 26,683 suffered from psychiatric conditions like brain trauma and such disorders as bipolar, mood, attention deficit hyperactivity and schizophrenia/psychotic disorder. In total, researchers looked at 128 regions of the brain, both at baseline and while performing a cognitive task.
Researchers found that the brains of women were much more active than men in several regions, but two in particular — the prefrontal cortex and limbic, or emotional, area. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for focus and impulse control, and scientists maintain this would explain why women tend to display more strength in areas like empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control and appropriate concern.
The limbic area is associated with mood and anxiety, and more activity in this region could be responsible for the fact that women are more prone to anxiety, depression, eating disorders and insomnia than their male counterparts. So, although women may feel empowered by the potential of having such an active brain — especially compared to men — there may be a downside to all that activity. In particular, scientists say it explains why women suffer from certain brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, depression and anxiety, more than men do.
Women didn’t trump men in brain activity all-around: Men’s brains were found to be more active in other areas, most notably in the visual coordination centers, which explains why they have higher rates of ADHD and conduct issues, say researchers.
The study’s lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, hopes that the findings influence the way brain research is conducted. “Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future,” he says.
If you want to keep your brain working to the best of its ability, feed it with these 19 brain superfoods recommended by Dr. Amen.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised by the findings of this study? Have you noticed the differences mentioned between the sexes? Will this information help you understand the opposite sex a little better?