Machine Learning Finds Female Brains Age Slower Than Male Brains

(p. C4)  . . .  there is fresh evidence that women not only have a longevity advantage; their brains seem to be more youthful throughout adulthood, too.

The new study, published last month [February 2019] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, was led by radiologist Manu Goyal and neurologist Marcus Raichle, both at the Washington University School of Medicine.

. . .

The researchers used machine learning to detect distinctive patterns in the brains they studied. “When we trained it on males and tested it on females, then it guessed the female’s brain age to be three to four years younger than the women’s chronological age,” said Dr. Goyal. Conversely, when the machine was trained to see female metabolic patterns as the standard, it guessed men’s brains to be two to three years older than they actually were. That difference in metabolic brain age added up to approximately a three year advantage for women.

These brain age differences persisted across the adult lifespan and were visible even when people’s brains showed the harbingers of Alzheimer’s disease. “These new findings provide yet more evidence, as if more were needed, of just how ubiquitous sex influences on brain function have proven to be, often showing up in places we least expect them,” said Larry Cahill, a neuroscientist who studies sex differences in the brain at University of California, Irvine.

For the full commentary, see:

(Note:  the online version of the commentary has the date March 27, 2019.)

The published research summarized above, is:

Goyal, Manu S., Tyler M. Blazey, Yi Su, Lars E. Couture, Tony J. Durbin, Randall J. Bateman, Tammie L. S. Benzinger, John C. Morris, Marcus E. Raichle, and Andrei G. Vlassenko. “Persistent Metabolic Youth in the Aging Female Brain.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116, no. 8 (Feb. 19, 2019): 3251-3255.

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