Attention men. You may not know it, but your spouse’s brain is more active than yours. Generally, as a matter of fact, women’s brains are far more active in many areas than men’s brains, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Before you begin to challenge the study findings, you need to know that the discovery of increased ”prefrontal cortex” blood flow in women compared to men may explain why women tend to exhibit greater strengths in the areas of empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control, and appropriate concern.
That’s not all. There are downsides to this development, because brain disorders affect men and women differently and it could be responsible for making women more prone to certain disorders than men.
The study found increased blood flow in “limbic” areas of the brains of women, which may also partially explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders.
Women have significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)., conduct-related problems, and incarceration.
The functional brain imaging study carried out at the Amen Clinics, Newport Beach, CA., compared 46,034 brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women.
Among the subjects were 119 healthy volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A total of 128 brain regions were analyzed for subjects at baseline and while performing a concentration task.
“This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences. The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using functional neuroimaging tools, such as SPECT, are essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.” said Dr Daniel G. Amen, a psychiatrist and founder of Amen Clinics, Inc.
The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety. The visual and coordination centers of the brain were more active in men. SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. Images acquired from subjects at rest or while performing various cognitive tasks will show different blood flow in specific brain regions.
Understanding these differences is important because brain disorders affect men and women differently. “Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners,”, noted the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dean of the College of Sciences at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. George Perry.