A new study shows men and women have differences in the way we think and use our brains—and it also shows that one of us is using our brains a whole lot more.
Sure, women might not need a study to know we use our brains a lot more than men, but science is here to back it up anyway. The new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, is the largest functional brain imaging study and has finally proven women have more active brains than men.
Scientists looked at more than 46,000 brain imaging studies to better understand how neurological disorders affect men and women differently. “This is a very important study to help understand gender-based brain differences,” said lead author, psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, MD, founder of Amen Clinics, Inc. “The quantifiable differences we identified between men and women are important for understanding gender-based risk for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
For example, according to the study, women have higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, depression—which is itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease—and anxiety disorders, while men have higher rates of ADHD, conduct-related problems and incarceration (by about 1,400 percent).
The findings regarding the amount of activity in men’s and women’s brains is just a bonus and wasn’t the reason for the study. It was discovered when they were measuring blood to the brain and found that women’s brains were more active in some areas.
During the study, there was an increase in prefrontal cortex blood flow in women compared to men. That may explain why women tend to exhibit more empathy, intuition, collaboration, self-control and concern. It was also found that there was increased blood flow in limbic areas of women’s brains, which may explain why women are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, insomnia and eating disorders. In men, the visual and coordination centers of the brain were more active.
“Precisely defining the physiological and structural basis of gender differences in brain function will illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and understanding our partners,” said Dr. George Perry, 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.
The subjects in the study included 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 ADHD.
There you have it. Although men’s brains are, in fact, bigger, women sure do know how to use theirs! Hopefully, this study not only sheds some light on how men and women think, but also leads to treatment or prevention of neurological diseases.