For men and women of the same chronological age, the algorithm guessed the women were actually three years younger.
"We found that the machine learning technique typically guessed a slightly younger age for women than their actual age", he said. So in the new study, the researchers analyzed brain-imaging scans of 121 women and 84 men who ranged in age from 20 to 82.
The team initially hoped to use the metabolic information to predict a person's age. They looked at both the metabolism changes in aging brains of men and women. The difference also was present in people who had brain amyloid.
"The average difference in calculated brain age between men and women is significant and reproducible, but it is only a fraction of the difference between any two individuals", Goyal said. They found that on average, women's brains are 3.8 years younger than men's.
But little is known about how brain metabolism differs between men and women. But it's still not clear why.
The programme was then directed to calculate each woman's brain age from its metabolism.
It turns out that female brains tend to age more slowly, researchers report.
Scientists have seen a variety of sex differences in the brain, including stress response, some gene expression and disease. "Estrogen, which increases vitality of the brain regions involved in memory, but which plummets after menopause in women, may be a factor, although multiple other factors are likely involved".
To explore this next question, Goyal and his team are now expanding their research to evaluating the likelihood of adults' developing cognitive problems over time.
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Further research is needed to uncover whether the neoteny of women helps them to avoid neurodegenerative diseases. It's associated with brain development, increasing in sync with synaptic formation and growth. The brain still uses sugar for cognitive function, but aerobic glycolysis plateaus at a low level usually by the time people are in their 60s.
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Dr. Manu Goyal, senior author of the study and assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine, provided some context for the findings, explaining in a statement: "It's not that men's brains age faster-they start adulthood about three years older than women, and that persists throughout life".
The study was conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in the United States and funded by grants from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, Charles F. and Joanne Knight, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience, and the National Institutes of Health.
This process slows down as we approach adulthood, and continues to slowly decline.
The researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which produce detailed images that show how the brain is working. Persistent metabolic youth in the aging female brain.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PNAS and is freely available to read online.
Even so, for some individuals, there was a giant distinction between their mind age and their chronological age. Notably, many of these studies are performed by comparing age-matched females and males.
HAMILTON: About four years younger on average. Having a younger brain for longer could make the brain more vulnerable to certain things as well. As mind metabolism decreases in these girls, Brinton says, there's a rise within the sticky proteins which are related to Alzheimer's.