When it comes to brain health as we get older, it seems there may be some advantages to being a woman. A group of neuroscientists from the University of Szeged in Hungary recently determined that men’s brains actually age faster than their female counterparts—which may increase their risk of developing neurological problems such as Parkinson’s.
In looking at the brain scans of more than 100 men and women, researchers discovered notable differences in the deeper areas of the brain. For example, in specific areas linked to movement and emotional response, men saw a more rapid decline in grey matter volume with age. Also among men, aging had a greater impact on the thalamus, which helps relay signals of sight, hearing, and touch, as well as motor function.
In their findings, study authors point out that changes in brain structure and the loss of grey matter have previously been linked to age-related decline in brain function. Those changes—and how they differ between men and women—may help explain why men are more vulnerable to conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as seniors.
The study, published in the journal Brain Imaging & Behavior, may one day help us learn more about preserving brain health as we age.