In a new study, researchers found that women may start middle age with stronger brain function than men, but as they get older, women’s cognition declines faster.
The research was conducted by a team at Michigan Medicine.
In the study, the team did an analysis from more than 26,000 Black and white men and women who had participated in one of five long-term cohort studies.
The researchers found that women had significantly faster declines in overall cognition and executive function, the brain processes used in problem-solving, planning and managing your time.
However, memory decline was comparable between men and women.
They estimate that cognitive function in women declined around five years faster than their ages would suggest.
They say that differences in biological, genetic, social and lifestyle factors between men and women might contribute to faster cognitive decline in women, and more research is needed.
Researchers attribute the higher initial cognitive levels in women to greater cognitive reserve.
Women’s higher initial scores might delay detecting thinking difficulties, so it’s important for loved ones and physicians to closely monitor older women for the first signs of cognitive decline.
One author of the study is Deborah Levine, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of internal medicine and neurology.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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