Men have worse memories than women as they age
The memories of men suffer more from aging than those of women, according to research published in the journal JAMA Neurology. found memory and the aging brain has more profound effects on older men compared to women. Also, APOE ε4 – a gene associated as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease – was not found to play a role in worsen memory.
For the study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic focused on memory performance, brain structure as it relates to the volume of the lower hippocampus, and the occurrence of amyloid, which are brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists performed positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and memory tests on 1,246 participants from ages 30 to 95, who had a normal cognitive standing. The participants were then split into four groups based on their gender and whether they were carriers of the APOE ε4 gene, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings showed that memory overall worsens from ages 30 to 90s. Lower hippocampal volume also worsened after 30, with a sharp decline beginning at age 70. However, amyloid accumulation was higher in people over the age of 70. Carriers of the APOE ε4 gene had greater amyloid accumulation on average than non-carriers after the age of 70. On PET scans, amyloid accumulation hit 10 percent when carriers of the gene were 57 and non-carriers were 64.
Overall, men had worsen memory than women at age 40 and lower hippocampal volume than women at age 60. These measurements were not influenced by whether or not people were carriers of the Alzheimer’s disease gene.
The researchers concluded that the findings were consistent with other research that indicates late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is associated with amyloid accumulation that begins later in life. However, this accumulation occurs due to pre-existing structural and cognitive decline associated with aging in general.