Women Have Smaller but More Efficient Brain: New Study

by Mita Majumdar on  March 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM Health Watch
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Women can have the last laugh now! A new research from UCLA and Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, indicated that although the brain in women is smaller than in men, women use their brain more efficiently.
Women Have Smaller but More Efficient Brain: New Study
Women Have Smaller but More Efficient Brain: New Study

The study, published in the journal Intelligence, carried out a series of intelligence tests by applying a method for automated segmentation of the hippocampus in 3D high-resolution structural brain MRI scans.

Hippocampus is a part of the limbic system in the brain responsible for storing, processing and retrieving memories, and also experiencing emotions such as fear and anger.

For the study, Roberto Colom from the University of Madrid and his colleagues, selected 104 healthy young adults (59 women and 45 men in the age range from 18 to 27 years) who were asked to complete 21 tasks measuring abstract, verbal, and spatial intelligence, along with working memory, executive control, attention, and processing speed.

They found that hippocampal structural differences were related to spatial intelligence, working memory, and executive control, but were not related to verbal intelligence, attention, and processing speed.

Larger the hippocampus and more the neurons, means higher the intelligence, but only in men. On the other hand, in women, a larger hippocampus, although smaller than men's, did not indicate greater intelligence. Rather, the researchers reasoned, smaller the hippocampus, the better.

They confirmed the earlier studies that women are better at inductive reasoning (a kind of reasoning that evaluates general propositions that are derived from specific examples) and also found that women are better at tracking a changing situation. The men, in contrast, have better performance in intelligence tests.

The study concluded: 'At this structural level, females might show greater efficiency requiring less neural material for achieving behavioral results on a par with males'. That is, women's brains are able to complete complicated tasks with less energy and fewer neurons as compared with men's brain.

Trevor Robbins, professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge while commending the study suggested further examination. The better efficiency of the female brain could be because of 'more intense mobilization of neurons or more active signals between them' and that they operate more efficiently in females due to the small structure, he said.

He continued, 'the research indicates that a smaller hippocampus size in women means better performance and the structure size of the brain does not necessarily indicate the presence of any relationship with the efficiency of performance'.

Source: Medindia

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