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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Memories and Men

Posted April 07, 2015 12:00 AM by Chelsey H

Sometimes it's nice to have science back up what we (and by 'we' I mean women) already know - that women have better memories than men. Not only is a man's memory worse than a woman's, but the part of the brain that controls memories is smaller in men.

Dr. Clifford Jack of the Mayo Clinic and fellow researchers studied a group of 1,246 cognitively normal people between the ages of 30 and 95. Overall they found that while memory started to decline for both sexes at age 30, male memory was worse than females' overall, especially after age 40.

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This is due, in part, to the hippocampus being smaller in men than women, especially after age 60. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls memory.

"It's true, women's brains are smaller than men's brains, but brain size scales with your height," Jack said. "And so if you correct for head size, which we did, women's hippocampus and verbal memory is better than men's."

The protective effects of hormones keep a woman's hippocampus larger, especially estrogen which has been shown to shield pre-menopausal women from hypertension, bone loss, and heart disease. Progesterone, luteinizing hormone, and blood volume also help increase and maintain a woman's memory. This goes away for some women over the age of 50, but they still have had a lifetime of protective advantage giving them a residual effect for a number of years.

Dr. Jack also noted that one unusual, and hopeful, finding of the study was that memory and brain-volume starts to decline in your 30s and continue through old age occur well before there is evidence of Alzheimer's disease.

This means that being forgetful at age 50 or 60 may just be evidence of your brain aging instead of evidence of early Alzheimer's disease.

Still, your brain is going to age. Experts agree that anyone can benefit and delay signs of neurodegeneration by maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise of the body and brain.

Doctors recommend that you keep learning. Learn a new language, develop a skill such as piano or guitar, and take up painting or drawing. And a half hour interval burst of aerobic exercise helps your brain significantly.

And even today, do you trust your memory?

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#1

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 3:29 AM

'....It's true, women's brains are smaller than men's brains, but brain size scales with your height," Jack said. "And so if you correct for head size, which we did, women's hippocampus and verbal memory is better than men's."...'

So, a female's memory is better when you correct for head size?

Maybe a practical example would help us daft men understand this more easily. The next time you come out of a store and can't remember where you parked the car ( might as well use an example guaranteed to occur), if one of us guys reminds you to correct for head size then you won't even have to use the remote to have the car signal it's location?

Confirmation bias and overt sexism aside, this is a great article... one you correct for head size, that is.

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#2

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 5:09 AM

Aha!

Oh man!

I forgot what I wanted to say!

Never mind.

Probably was not important!

Hint:

The question is is what women remember always important? Is what men remember important for woman and vise versa? And I dont want to get into a discussion about size. According to my memory it is not important!

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#3

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 11:59 AM

My wife thinks I don't care when I can't remember a brief discussion we had three years ago! Well, I might not but now I can blame science.

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#4

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 12:05 PM

Ummm.....

What was the question?

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#5

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 12:48 PM

The test did not correlate the importance of the information remembered.

I'm sure that my girlfriend has a better overall memory than mine. She can remember amazing amounts of minute detail, like what color blouse Sally wore at her cousin's wedding or what type of dressing was on her salad last Thursday. But she often forgets major items, like what that glowing 'oil' light means on the dashboard. I think men are better at remembering what is important. Like what is meaningful in scientific studies.

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#6
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Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 1:36 PM

Exactly. We carry a smaller bag but with all the important things in it.

Woman have a suitcase with what in it?

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#7

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 10:24 PM

It is a total true fact that women can remember things that did not happen and even better memory of things that may happen.

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#10
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Re: Memories and Men

04/08/2015 6:58 AM

LOL!!

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#8

Re: Memories and Men

04/07/2015 11:19 PM

The study specifically looked at Verbal memory. "... women's hippocampus and verbal memory is better than men's."

As a study this is open to review and i am sure that when said reviews are done there will be no sex specific differences in overall memory. I am a tool user and as such i remember the value of tan 25, the sq rt of 2 and Pi. ( for example ). I find remembering this far more important to ME than what my wife said 3 days ago. She considers what she said 3 days ago to be more important than ... well, everything. I notice that most of the replies refute the study and i suspect that they are by men defending their sex. I see no need to be defensive, what is, IS. Can't change it. However correcting for size is like saying a female weight lifter is stronger than a male because she is female and has smaller muscles. It is a self defeating argument. I haven't looked at the raw data in the study but i wonder how the data compared before correcting for brain size was factored in. Did it in fact show that women had worse memories but because they had smaller brains their results were bumped up by a fudge factor? Maybe same sized brains had very similar memory capacity regardless of sex. There must have been a way of comparing results based purely on brain size alone and then separating out the other factors such as age, alcohol and drug consumption, smoking, diet and sex. Was the 'n' of this study big enough? Was it multicultural? Did it concentrate on one 'race'? All i can add is; thank goodness there is peer review!

Jim

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Re: Memories and Men

04/08/2015 3:41 AM
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#11
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Re: Memories and Men

04/08/2015 8:04 AM

Yes we have empty box and women have box filled up with.........

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Re: Memories and Men

04/08/2015 5:13 PM

That pretty much nails it!

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#13

Re: Memories and Men

04/10/2015 11:50 AM

Now there are reports of brain damage caused by use of synthetic female hormones in birth control compounds.

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#14

Re: Memories and Men

11/16/2015 2:15 AM

Sometimes my memory lies to me: it give me false information. The exome sequencing shows that some mutations will lead to early AD and I was wondering if they are also related to our memory--it may explain why our memory keeps give us false information.

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