It’s an age-old question: Are male and female brains different? It looks like we finally have an answer, and one that’s verified by science, at that.
Male brain vs. female brain: The big differences
Research has verified what most women have suspected. Male and female brains are not the same, and female brains are more active.
In the biggest brain imaging survey to date, scientists compared brain scans from 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a range of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar and mood disorders.
This study by Amen Clinics, California, found that women’s brains are significantly more active in more regions. The findings help to shed light on how brain disorders affect men and women differently.
“The quantifiable differences are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” says Daniel G. Amen, a lead author, psychiatrist and founder of Amen Clinics.
How are male and female brains different?
Are male and female brains different? Brains are not grey and not the same for males and females | Source: Pixabay
The study found that women’s brains were significantly more active in the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain involved in focus and impulse control.
Greater blood flow can explain why women tend to be stronger in empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control and in showing appropriate concern.
The limbic or emotional areas of the woman’s brain are also more active than in men. This area is responsible for mood and anxiety. Increased blood flow here may partially explain why women are more prone to anxiety, depression, insomnia and eating disorders.
The findings conclude that women are also more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, men have higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct-related disorders.
Tips to avoid mental decline
Although difficult to understand, the human brain is changeable and should be taken care of. The brain changes with age. Likewise, mental function changes with age.
So, regardless of your gender, take note of the following tips that’ll help you care for your brain and keep it in tip-top working condition as you age.
- Generate new cells through brain activity by taking a new course, reading or doing “mental gymnastics” such as word puzzles or math problems.
- Physical exercise and good nutrition will help your mind as well as your body. Exercise spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells.
- Eat a Mediterranean style diet that emphasis fruits, vegetables, nuts and unsaturated oil. This can prevent cognitive impairment and dementia.
- Improve your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels by living a healthy lifestyle. This will also help prevent cognitive impairment and reduce the risk of dementia.
Mums, do take note that this same study shows that women are more prone to depression and anxiety. So, take this as a heads-up to watch out for signs of these conditions (including post-natal depression) and ask for help when needed.
Also read: Smiling depression is very real
Sources: Harvard Medical School, IOS Press, Weforum.org