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Study finds that women have more active brains than men

Published on 08/08/17 at 03:19pm

In research that will have many women nodding their brain-boxes, a study has found that analysis of thousands of brains scans showed that women had higher overall levels of activity in the brain.

In particular, the study found that women showed increased blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, which is thought to control focus, impulse control and the emotional regulation of the brain.

The ostensible reason for the research was to further understand the likelihood of conditions that have been shown to have a gender-bias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and the complete study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Beyond this, it also provides clues as to why more women struggle with depression and anxiety disorders.

In comparison, men were found to have increased blood flow to visual and coordination’s centres of the brain, while also tending to struggle higher rates of ADHD and impulsive behaviour.

The study involved 119 health volunteers and 26,683 patients with a variety of psychiatric conditions such as brain trauma, bipolar disorders and mood disorders. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was used to determine blood perfusion in the brain. The images were taken from subjects at rest or while performing cognitive tasks.

Lead author psychiatrist Daniel G. Amen, Medical Director of Amen Clinics, commented, “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, is essential to developing precision medicine brain treatments in the future.”

While Amen was keen to emphasise the potential for the scans to be used in future drug development, it should be noted that his company offers SPECT imaging scans as a commercial entity.

In particular, the website for Amen Clinic states that: “Through the process of SPECT imaging we are able to find your brain pattern and treat conditions based on your specific brain type. The scans also teach us that there are many natural things that we can do to help balance the brain.”

Of the conditions the company claims to be able to treat, they range from the ridiculous (marital conflict) to the outright dangerous (memory problems and dementia). So, though the research may be interesting, perhaps take the company’s offered treatments with a pinch of salt.

Ben Hargreaves

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